LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Home Office issues guidance for checking tenants’ immigration status

Home Office issues guidance for checking tenants’ immigration status

The Government has published a factsheet updating landlords of their obligations under the Immigration Act 2014.

Under controversial new rules from late autumn 2014 landlords in some areas will need to check that tenants have a “right to rent” in the UK before letting a property to them.

Right to rent checks will only apply to landlords of private residential property, and to new tenancy agreements. Landlords won’t need to check the immigration status of existing tenants.

The Home Office guidance says that in most cases a right to rent check “just means checking that a prospective tenant has certain documents, like a passport or a biometric residence permit”. Landlords will need to photocopy these documents to show that the check has been carried out.

It claims that most landlords won’t need to contact the Home Office, however the Home Office will provide a checking service for more complex cases.

The immigration requirements will apply in just one area of the UK to start with – this will be announced in September.

At that point the Home Office will publish draft codes of practice, guidance and online resources, including an aid to help landlords and tenants identify whether they are affected and, if so, how to conduct a check.

The requirements may apply more widely from 2015.

Landlords are invited to register their details with the Home Office if they’d like to be kept informed with the latest information on right to rent checks.

The Home Office factsheet on right to rent checks explains that failure to comply could result in a civil penalty up to a maximum £3,000.

The factsheet claims the checks will be “very simple, and in most cases landlords will be able to conduct them without contacting the Home Office.” It also states that the Government will provide a comprehensive set of services to help landlords conduct checks, including online guidance and a telephone helpline providing general information, and a case-checking service for more complex cases.

In the meantime, landlords and tenants can have a look at the right to work check, which is similar to the resource the Government will be introducing for landlords.