The Home Office initiative was launched on 1 December in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The trial scheme which places a requirement on landlords to verify the immigration status of their tenants now means that landlords could be fined £3,000.00 if they fail to undertake the necessary checks to confirm that their prospective tenant is in the country legally.

Landlords’ legal obligations

A landlord must now ask to see evidence of the tenant’s identity and citizenship and if a passport cannot be produced, the landlord can undertake additional checks via a Government website.

Landlords’ agents’ legal obligations

It is imperative that all agents are fully briefed in relation to the new requirements and they must put in place the relevant processes to ensure that the policies are adhered to.  In addition, establishing routine identification checks will ensure that tenants do not suffer discrimination.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents has produced a helpful guide which sets of the requirements of the Immigration Act 2014 and how lettings agents should react in response to the launch of the trial scheme.

Stricter regulations for the property industry

The Act appears to be a step in the right direction and seems to be an attempt to introduce stricter regulation in the property industry. Stricter regulation is needed to not only reduce rogue landlords and criminal organisations breaking the rules, but to also bring the industry together to share best practice.

It is not yet confirmed when the scheme will be rolled out in other areas of the country.