The Immigration Act 2014 introduces new requirements for landlords of residential properties to check the immigration status of prospective tenants or occupiers.
The new requirements, which are set to become mandatory for all landlords in 2015, are intended to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to rent private accommodation. It is claimed that up to 85% of immigrants live in privately rented accommodation and the government has introduced the Act as part of its work aimed at stopping rogue landlords from exploiting immigrants with substandard and illegally overcrowded accommodation as well as preventing illegal immigrants from renting property. However opponents of the measures argue that they will place an onerous burden on landlords who will be unsuited to carry out the required checks.
A person is disqualified from occupying property under a residential tenancy agreement if they:
- Are not a "relevant national", which is:
- a British citizen;
- a national of an EEA State; or
- a national of Switzerland.
- Do not have a right to rent in relation to the property i.e. if they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it, or they have leave but it is subject to conditions that prevent them from occupying the premises.
Landlords are prohibited from allowing anyone who doesn’t qualify under the above criteria from occupying their property. A breach could lead to a fine of up to £3,000.
The government has indicated that detailed guidance will be provided to landlords together with an online checking tool and telephone enquiry service to ensure that landlords are fully equipped to deal with the new requirements. However there remain concerns from some groups that this will not be sufficient for landlords to protect themselves from breaching the new rules.
One of the main arguments is that landlords or letting agents will be unfamiliar with Home Office documentation or passports from other countries and could therefore be presented with falsified documents without the expertise to differentiate them from genuine documents. Without proper training and education, can landlords be expected to supervise the government’s immigration policy?
BHW Solicitors can advise on the impact of the Immigration Act 2014 on privately rented accommodation or any other questions on rental properties. Call us on 0116 289 700 to discuss any query.