UK Landlords: Immigration Right to Rent Checks

The Government introduced the right to rent scheme under the Immigration Act 2014 and officially became binding on all UK landlords/ agents  from 1 February 2016. Under the right to rent scheme, landlords are now required to carry out compulsory checks on the immigration status of potential tenants. The aim of the right to rent checks is to act as a deterrent, so people without a right to reside in the UK are not accommodated and are forced to regularise their status. Since the right to rent scheme has been implemented, landlords who fail to carry out the compulsory checks may face civil penalties up to £3000 per illegal tenant.  

UK Landlords are required to check the immigration status of tenants from 1 February 2016

Landlords could face imprisonment from failing to comply with UK Immigration Law

TODAY, the Secretary of State announced that from December this year landlords who accommodate tenants without the correct immigration status will be committing a criminal offence. The Home Secretary Amber Rudd stated at a conference in Birmingham earlier today;

“that from December, landlords that knowingly rent out property to people who have no right to be here will be committing a criminal offence – they could go to prison.”

The recent comments from the Home Secretary demonstrate the government’s intention to crack down on the number of illegal immigrants currently residing in the UK.

Right to Rent Checks for UK Landlords

Landlords must ensure they carry out all the necessary checks required under the right to rent scheme to ensure they do not fall short of their duty under the Immigration Act 2014. The purpose of the checks is to establish whether potential tenants have the right to be in the UK. There is no specific method of carry out right to rent checks but government guidance suggests that landlords or agents renting a property should ensure they do the following:

  • Establish how many adults intend on residing at the property;
  • Request for original documents from the tenants, which prove they have a right to live in the UK. Landlords should be conscience of counterfeit documents, especially where a landlord is acting independently without the correct legal guidance on the validity of travel documents. It is essential the correct due diligence is carried out to avoid facing liability especially where documents may not be English;
  • Landlords/agents should make copies of all documents, as it is likely these will be required at a later date of the tenancy; and
  • Landlords should ensure all documents are up-to-date and valid, where there are discrepancies within the documents such as different names being used on different documents, landlords/agents should be extra cautious. Supporting documents may be requested to help clarify any discrepancies.

These checks must be carried out in accordance with the requirements set down in the Immigration Act 2014. It is fundamentally important to ensure that these checks are carried out properly and efficiently to avoid imprisonment or heavy penalties being imposed on you.

Classification of Tenants under the UK Immigration Law

An important question often arises as to who is considered as a tenant?

  • A tenant is someone who spends most of their time at the property with their belongings;
  • They have registered that address as their residential address with their bank and doctors; and
  • The right to rent scheme only applies to adults, therefore, children are exempt from the checks. However, this does not mean landlords should not confirm the immigration status of any children residing in the property.

Landlords must maintain up-to-date records of all occupants of the property including obtaining copies of the children’s IDs and birth certificate(s) because there is a possibility that tenant’s children may turn 18 during the course of the tenancy.

Where tenants cannot provide the necessary documents which establish their right to reside in the UK, landlords/ agents should send them away and contact the Home Office.

Landlords must follow the landlord’s code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation. In instances where a tenant claims that their documents are with the Home Office, landlords can contact the Home Office directly by using the landlord’s checking service. This service may be used when the tenant has an outstanding case or appeal with the Home Office.

Landlords who purchase properties with sitting tenants must also check the immigration status of the tenants or should confirm with the previous landlord whether the correct checks have been carried out. The landlord should request for the documents and copy them for reference. However, it is best recommended that new landlords carry out their own checks.

Expert Immigration Advice on Right to Rent Checks & UKVI Penalty Appeals / Challenges

Landlords may not be liable to face civil penalties where they have conducted the initial right to rent checks before issuing the tenancy agreement. Landlords will  be required to conduct follow-up checks and inform the Home Office if the follow-up checks demonstrate that their tenant may no longer have the right to rent. A failure to comply with the right to rent checks may result in the landlord facing civil penalties and/or imprisonment.

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of the law. Please always call us for a telephone case assessment even if you wish to consider other advisers.

Our Immigration Experts are able to give specialist legal information and advice in this area of law. To contact one of our Immigration Solicitors or Immigration Barristers please complete our legal case assessment form and we will get in touch or call us now on 0845 8622 529 for a free telephone assessment and free case assessment.

If you wish to consider your options, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your matter and if necessary advise you of the next steps you should take in a consultation.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

If you need professional legal advice on how to conduct right to rent checks or appealing penalties please contact us for a case assessment on 02071830570. You can also reach us via our contact form.

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