Are landlords the new border agents?

As part of a major shakeup to Britain’s border control efforts, the government recently announced plans to require the nation’s landlords to start checking the immigration status of their tenants. Whilst this may sound like a simple solution to a complex problem, little thought has been put into the extra burden that these new rules would place on buy-to-let property owners around the country.

Under the changes, you would be legally required to check the documents of all potential tenants. What’s more, you would also be asked to make a judgement call as to whether these documents are real, with potential four-figure fines for those who don’t comply.

Property litigation specialist Alan Hamblett is among many who have already raised concerns about these new measures, noting that many landlords might find themselves in an incredibly sticky legal position. Whilst the rules will require landlords to decide whether or not documents are fake, they could also face civil claims if they accidentally reject genuine applicants – Alan notes that basing decisions on things such as an unusual name could be a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Recent grumblings from politicians and landlord groups have been heard, though, and there are now talks of only enforcing the rules in so called “high-risk” areas. The law may also be changed to only target those without a British passport, although nothing has yet been confirmed.

The real issue with the plans, though, is the extra cost. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has already suggested that the plans would force landlords to raise their rents in order to cover the extra administrative burden. The threat of fines and extra screening processes would also be factored into the costs, potentially making it even more difficult for landlords to find the right tenants. There are hopes that the plans will eventually be shelved, though, with the RLA recently describing them as “political posturing”.

If these rules do come into effect, Rentify is here to help. Our credit and reference checking service includes identity verification, meaning you can lease your properties with peace of mind.

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