The Home Office has warned landlords and letting agents that they only have a short period of time before they are obliged to check the immigration status of prospective tenants under the Right to Rent scheme.The legal requirement will be enforced across England on 1st February 2016. However, from this week, landlords and agents can begin conducting the checks on potential tenants, as the checks can be made from 28 days before the start of the tenancy agreement.
James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister, insists that the checks are simple and do not require any specialist knowledge.
He says: “Right to Rent is part of the Government’s wider reforms to the immigration system to make it stronger, fairer and more effective.
“Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected.
“The scheme is about deterring those without the right to live, work or study in the UK from staying here indefinitely.”
The Right to Rent obligations apply to all private landlords with rental properties in England, tenants that sub-let their homes and homeowners that take in lodgers.
Landlords can appoint a letting agent to undertake the checks on their behalf.
Landlords or agents must make the checks on all adult occupants. The scheme applies to all new tenancy agreements starting from 1st February onwards, with existing tenancy agreements unaffected.
- Determine who will live in their property.
- Obtain a tenant’s original appropriate documents.
- Check the documents with the tenant present.
- Copy and keep the copied documents on file.
- Record the date of the check.
If the tenant is only allowed to be in the UK for a limited period of time, the landlord or agent must conduct a follow-up check at a later date.
All local authority homes, company lets and holiday lets are exempt from the scheme.
The first change is the introduction of right to rent checks across the whole of England, not just the West Midlands (which has been trialling these checks for the past year), from 1 February 2016.
For many tenants these will be fairly straightforward - you just need to keep a copy of the passport. However things will be more complicated for people without passports, and tenants coming from abroad.
The two main things to remember about this legislation are:
- you must check EVERYONE (even your mother) if you want to avoid allegations of discrimination and
- your primary concern is to be able to show that you have complied with the legislation - NOT to ensure that the prospective tenants actually have the right to rent or not. That is for the immigration authorities. You just need to be able to prove if asked, that you have done what you are supposed to.
This means that you will need to keep meticulous records and keep copies of the immigration documentation along with details of who did the check and when etc.
Last Updated: 09/09/2016