The new provisions relating to the UK-wide introduction of the right to rent scheme (brought in by the Immigration Act 2014) come into force on 1 February 2016.
Essentially, this is the government's attempt to make it harder for individuals who have no leave to remain in the UK (or whose leave is time-limited) to rent in the private sector; but the upshot is the introduction of statutory liability (of between £1000 and £3000 per unlawful occupier) and an obligation to self-report to the Home Office for private landlords (or their agents) who don't complete the proper and detailed due diligence process.
Although a few exemptions apply, if an agent or its client landlord enter into ASTs they are going to be at risk and will need to comply.
Agents should therefore have prepared for the implementation and have a clear understanding of what is required of them in relation to the new rules, if they are assuming responsibility on behalf of their client landlord for the right to rent compliance. The process for determining whether a prospective tenant and any adult occupiers have the requisite right to rent in the UK is quite complex. It is important that all AST's and terms and conditions of management are updated to reflect the obligations of the parties and limitations thereof.
The rules are broadly as follows:
- All adults who are age 18 or over at the commencement of the tenancy must be verified as having a right to rent.
- Original documents must be checked and copies kept for 12 months for all persons checked in accordance with the code of practice
- Follow up checks must be carried out if the right to rent is time limited;
- If the right to rent has expired at the point of follow up, there is a requirement to report this to the Home Office as soon as possible.
If in doubt as to what will be required you should seek guidance now.