Several bodies are taking the time to remind those UK landlords affected about the importance of conducting tenant checks shortly before new legislation will require them to check the immigration status of every new tenant.
As of December 1st 2014 landlords in the West Midlands where a pilot scheme is being introduced, will be responsible for carrying out ‘right to rent’ checks in order to identify if a potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK, before they grant a tenancy or sign any documents.
If the checks are not carried out those landlords could face a fine of up to £3,000. The new rules, set out in the Immigration Act, will be rolled out around the rest of the UK in 2015.
The Immigration Act will place a legal responsibility on landlords to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented accommodation. So while it has always been best practice to conduct a thorough check on prospective tenants, due diligence on immigration status will also now be essential to avoid a hefty penalty.
The Home Office has not yet issued specific instructions about what precisely will constitute proof of right to residency, but it is likely that British passport holders will only need to show their current passport and those without passports will have to produce alternative documents including birth or adoption certificate in combination with a National Insurance number, driving licence, naturalisation certificate or a right of abode certificate.
Citizens of the 27 member countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are expected to show as evidence a passport and national identity card or evidence of receipt of UK benefits.
People from other countries should have a Biometric Residence Permit which clearly states the time limit on their stay but foreign visitors staying for less than six months cannot obtain a Biometric Residence Permit and would need to show a passport containing a UK immigration stamp with a time limit that is still valid.