The Home Office has announced that from October 2014 landlords of private residential property will need to check that tenants have a right to rent in the UK before letting a property to them. They will have to follow ‘the right to rent check’, which consists of obtaining documents from potential tenants such as passport or a Biometric Residence Permit. Immigration checks will not apply to existing tenants. This is another measure from the Home Office to tackle illegal immigration in the UK.
Mark Harper: We are not asking Landlords to become Immigration Experts
Former Immigration Minister, Mark Harper stated earlier this year that checks on new tenants are important to ensure that they are entitled to be in the UK. Landlords and agents who fail to make the required checks will be subject to a civil penalty. The Government will publish a draft code of practice for Landlords to ensure that they are complying with the requirements. The code of practice will also include the civil penalty regime. The Government has insisted that this guidance is not catch out ‘well-intentioned landlords for small mistakes’, but for landlords who knowingly break the rules and provide accommodation to illegal migrants.
Mark Harper compared the checks that landlords are expected to make as the same as UK employers are making:
“We are not asking landlords to become immigration experts. The new regime simply mirrors the existing checks employers are obliged to make which have successfully targeted those employing immigration offenders without a disproportionate burden.”
Initially, the requirements that landlords have to meet will apply in just one area of the UK. The government will announce that area in September 2014. As well as:
- The guidance and a full list of documents that prove a right to rent;
- Online assitance to help landlords and tenants comply with Immigration Rules;
- A local rate telephone helpline; and
- A checking service for more complex cases.
Statistics: 43% of Landlords not Confident in making Immigration Checks
Research conducted by the Online Letting Agents found that 8 out 10 landlords in the UK feel that the Immigration legislation places too much responsibility on them. Approximately 43% of landlords are not confident that they will comply will the legislation, while 30% are said to be optimistic about the new checks.
Eleanor Carroll, director of the Online Letting Agents explained the burden of the new legislation and the importance of the Home Office helping landlords who are not used to doing immigration checks to understand. To ensure they are complying with the legislation:
“The new legislation will be a big burden on both letting agents and landlords and there is no way around it. The industry needs to take these changes seriously as landlords and agents will face heavy fines if they fall foul of the law. ‘Landlords and agents will need all the help they can get to integrate the new checks and validations into their overall tenant application process. Not surprisingly, there are a number of companies now offering immigration checking services.”
Legal Advice for Illegal Migrants/Overstayers in the UK
Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. If you have received correspondence from Capita, it is advisable that you seek immediate legal advice before enforcement action is taken against you by the Home Office.
Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options of regularising your stay.