Under a new scheme to be rolled out under the Immigration Act 2014 (the “Act”), residential landlords must (subject to limited exemptions) to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and other authorised occupiers to ascertain whether they have the right to live in the UK legally before granting a tenancy. The scheme is being piloted from 1 December 2014 in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton and, following a review in spring 2015, the Home Office expects to continue the phased introduction of the scheme across the UK in 2015.
Under the Act, a landlord should not permit an adult to occupy a property as his/her only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the person:
- Is a British citizen
- Is an EEA or Swiss national
- Has a “right to rent” in the UK. An individual will have a “right to rent” in the UK provided he/she is present lawfully in accordance with immigration laws
In order to comply with its obligations, a landlord should:
- Obtain original identification documents (from the approved list of documents) for each adult who is going to live at the property as his/her only or main home prior to granting the tenancy
- Check the validity of the documents in the presence of the occupier
- Retain clear copies of each of the documents obtained with a record of the date on which the checks were undertaken for a period of at least one year following the expiry of the tenancy agreement
- If the initial checks indicate that an occupier has a time limited right to rent, the landlord should conduct follow-up checks throughout the tenancy to ensure that the right to rent does not lapse.
- If the follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the right to rent, the landlord should make a report to the Home Office
A landlord could be fined up to GBP 3,000 if it fails to comply with its obligations under the Act.
The Home Office has issued a Code of Practice which offers guidance to landlords upon the implementation of the scheme.