Landlords must carry out immigration status checks on prospective tenants
Anyone providing a right of occupation of premises for residential use after 1st February 2016 needs to be aware of the commencement of legislation requiring checks to be carried out on the immigration status of the proposed occupants in a specified manner. Failure to do so may incur civil penalties. Some lettings are excluded – in particular leases for 7 years or more, holidays lettings and mobile homes.
The obligations apply to tenants, lodgers, family members or others. They may apply to commercial premises – for example when there is a letting for less than 7 years of a shop with a flat above.
These provisions have been in operation in parts of the West Midlands since 1st October 2014 but will now apply in the remainder of the country.
Detailed guidance is to be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice
Landlords are liable for compliance unless their Agents assume their liability in writing.
Apart from in those parts of the West Midlands, there are presently no requirements in relation to residential tenancy agreements entered into before 1st February or which are renewed after that date if the renewed agreement will be between the same parties and there has been no break in the tenant’s right to occupy the premises. This could lead to difficulties for a landlord where the tenant has a right to a renewal but some or all of these criteria cannot be met.
It is interesting to note that if an existing occupant loses the right to reside in England, then the obligation on the landlord is not to evict but promptly to report the occupant to the Home Office at www.Gov.uk/righttorentchecks
It is understood that an Immigration Bill currently in progress proposes a crime of knowingly providing residential accommodation to an adult who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying premises as well as an obligation on the Landlord to evict such persons using a licence from the Home Office but without the need for a Court Order.