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New landlord immigration checks

Right to Rent Checks - Landlords And Agents

On 29th July 2014 the Prime Minister announced that the requirements of landlords and agents to establish that new tenants have the right to rent a property will come into force in one area in Autumn 2014. The Government are yet to announce that area but are expected to do so after summer recess. It is expected that the requirements will apply more widely from 2015.  

Before you rush out and start checking the status of all of your existing tenants read on. The new requirements will apply only to new tenancy agreements. Existing agreements will not be affected and landlords will not be expected to carry out checks retrospectively.  

It is expected that from 2015 these checks will become mandatory for all landlords and their agents. For now however it will start in one area and at that point codes of practice will be issued on how to conduct checks.  

You can however get ahead of the game and start doing this now so that you have all of the necessary procedures in place to satisfy the requirements and avoid any unnecessary delay and a possible civil penalty for non-compliance. These checks are similar to those already carried out by Employers and the Home Office is currently developing an online tool to assist.  

The Government state that there will be a significant amount of resources available to landlords and agents to assist in this area. If however you feel unsure you should always seek specialist legal advice.  

Our advice would be at this stage to carry out the steps outlined below.  However these may be subject to change as and when the guidance is produced and you should continue to check our website for further details.

  1. Obtain original documents from either list A or B of acceptable documents. Visit page 23 and 24
  2. Check that the document is genuine and that the tenant is the rightful holder of the document, that the document has not been tampered with, that photos are consistent and that the date on the person’s permission to be here has not passed (if so you must carry out additional checks)
  3. Make a clear copy of each document in a format which cannot later be altered, and retain the copy securely. You must retain a record of the date on which you made the check.

You must copy and retain:

  1. Passports: any page with the document expiry date, the holder’s nationality, date of birth, signature, leave expiry date, biometric details, photograph and any page containing information indicating the holder has an entitlement to rent.
  2. All other documents: the document in full, including both sides of a Biometric Residence Permit if applicable

We will produce further detailed guidance on the checks required in due course.  

Failure to carry out the checks on new tenants can lead to a civil penalty of up to £3000 per tenant/offence.  

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