Right to Rent Checks for Tenants and Landlords
When new provisions within the Immigration Act 2014 are introduced, Landlords will become liable to a £3,000 fine if they do not properly carry out checks confirming whether their tenants have the right status to be able to rent within the UK. Evidence of the relevant checks being carried out will also need to be retained.
The Government has recently confirmed that the provisions will initially be tested in a pilot area from late Autumn 2014 and then rolled out across the whole of the UK in 2014. It is unknown where the pilot area will be but this is likely to be confirmed in September 2014.
As well as needing to carry out checks when a tenant first enters into an agreement, there will be an ongoing duty to check status on an annual basis. There are numerous concerns however, about the ability of Landlords to carry out the requisite checks. There are a vast array of different forms of status within the UK, and different ways in which the Home Office implement those forms of status. The potential pitfalls in this area are clear, with even Minister for Immigration Mark Harper, having resigned from his position for failing to comply with similar checks when employing a domestic worker.
Landlords will be able to delegate their responsibility to an agent to carry out checks on their behalf, where they enter into a formal agreement with them.
There has been additional confusion caused by the slow release of information relating to the requirements. Guidance was published on the government website on the 7th August 2014, but was taken down again shortly afterwards. In the guidance, the Home Office have indicated that they will be setting up their own enquiry service for tenant checks, including a phone line with a 48 hour turnaround although few details of how this system will be implemented have been released.
It is also likely that status checks will be offered in a similar fashion to reference checking services currently offered in relation to tenants, to enable tenants and landlords to remain fully compliant with the new requirements.
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