This week, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has sent out a reminder to landlords about the new requirements of conducting immigration checks on their tenants. From the 1 October 2014 the pilot scheme, which is stated under Part 3 Chapter 1 of the Immigration Act 2014 will be introduced to the West Midlands where landlords will be required to carry out the ‘right to rent checks’. This is to ensure that the potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK.
NLA: the Immigration Act will place a Legal Responsibility on Landlords
If landlords in the West Midlands fail to comply with the new Immigration Rules they could face a fine of up to £3,000. The new rules will apply to the rest of the UK in 2015.
NLA chairman Carolyn Uphill ensured the organisations support for landlords unsure about the new rules:
“In some areas as early as this December, the Immigration Act will place a legal responsibility on landlords to help prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented accommodation. It has always been best practice to conduct a thorough check on prospective tenants, but if landlords don’t do their due diligence on tenants they could be in line for a hefty penalty. The NLA exists to support all landlords to make a success of their lettings business and to ensure they comply with the law.”
The Home Office has yet to publish specific instructions as to what documents provided by tenants would be considered sufficient. But the following documents are likely to be accepted:
- British passport holders will only need to show their current passports. Alternatively, birth certificates, National Insurance number, driving licence, naturalisation certificate or a right of abode certificate would be sufficient documents to prove right to live in the UK.
- Citizens from the EU are expected to show as evidence a passport and national identity card or evidence of receipt of UK benefits.
- Non-EU citizens should be able to show either a Biometric Residence Permit which states their leave to stay or if they are in the UK for less than 6 months they will have to show their passport which holds a UK Immigration stamp with a valid time limit.
Mark Harper: We are not asking Landlords to become Immigration Experts
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.
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 have published a code of practice for Landlords to ensure that they are complying with the requirements. The code of practice includes 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.”
Are you affected by the ‘Immigration Checks’?
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.