As we reported last week, the Immigration Act 2014 has (rather quietly) been passed into law and will impose new measures on landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants. Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has been keen to emphasise that these checks will be ‘as simple and straightforward as possible’. The intention is to stop rogue landlords who take advantage of new migrants (85% of migrants who have been in the UK for less than a year are housed in the private rented sector), not to catch out ‘well-intentioned landlords for small mistakes’. But what does this all really mean for landlords?
1.) You don’t need to do anything yet! First and foremost, don’t panic: the projected implementation date is October 2014. The government still has to publish a draft code of conduct and set up general operations.
2.) It will only apply to new tenancies. You will not have to conduct any checks on existing tenants when the measures come in.
3.) The government will create new tools to help you. These should include:
- An online checking resource for landlords similar to that currently available to employers for checking prospective employees’ right to work in the UK
- A free phone enquiry and checking service
- An email service with a turnaround of no longer than 48 hours. The government is currently claiming that if you hear nothing within 48 hours, you are free to rent. But it is not yet clear what happens if you hear after 48 hours that a tenant has failed the checks
- An option for legal migrants without papers to get new confirmation from the Home Office that they are allowed to rent
4.) The measures will apply to all private landlords, including those who take in lodgers and sub-tenants. Even though lodgers are not subject to a tenancy agreement, for the purpose of the Immigration Act they are considered to be tenants. Any landlord who fails to conduct the checks could face fines of up to £3000.
5.) Rentify will be able help! Agents will be allowed to carry out the checks on behalf of landlords, just like with credit and reference checks. We’ll happily take on the responsibility when the time comes, if you so wish, as well as keep you up to date on any new developments in the lead up to implementation.“More Houses of Parliament” by San Sharma is licensed under CC