New measures to address illegal immigration mean that residential landlords must confirm that their prospective tenants and occupiers are lawfully in the UK before letting to them. Landlords who do not verify their tenants’ or occupiers’ “right to rent” could be fined up to £3,000.
These are the latest in a series of potentially burdensome measures for landlords and landlords must be ready to comply, but there are concerns and implications for other parties too. Sue Thompson, a real estate litigator with particular experience in the Private Rented Sector, notes that “whilst there are many landlords and agents who already carry out identity checks, tenants will invariably see an increase in fees to cover the cost of any additional administration charges. There are also concerns that many migrants may suffer discrimination or remain vulnerable to the practices of a potentially rising number of unscrupulous landlords who are willing to ignore the checks.”
From 1 December 2014 the measures, introduced under the Immigration Act 2014, will be piloted in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton, before being implemented countrywide.
There is extensive guidance, including the Home Office’s code of practice, available on the gov.uk website.