As of Monday 1 February 2016, landlords are required to carry out checks to make sure potential tenants have the right to rent property in the United Kingdom. If landlords fail to comply with these new rules, they could face fines of up to £3,000.
The scheme is being implemented across the country after the government piloted the scheme in the West Midlands. The legislation prohibits private landlords of residential properties from allowing certain people to occupy those properties based on the immigration status of the occupiers. Landlords will have to check passports and visas of prospective tenants, to ascertain whether they have the right to occupy the premises before granting the tenancy.
The Government has released guidance notes on how to make a check and what documents landlords can accept as part of a check which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents
Once the landlord has obtained the prospective tenant's documentation, they should make and keep copies of the documents and record the date they made the check. Landlords must also make checks to ensure that someone's right to occupy the premises does not lapse - if a tenant has documentation which expires before the end of the tenancy, the landlord is required to make sure it is renewed.
Should a check reveal that the tenant does not have the right to live in the UK the landlord must report this to the Home Office immediately.
Families taking in lodgers must also follow the new rules. Although can only be fined up to £500.
So, what's the consequence for failing to comply with the new legislation? The Home Office can fine £1,000 for a first-time offence and up to £3,000 for subsequent offences. However, the consequences are set to become more serious in the future.
The new Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament proposes a five year jail sentence for repeat offenders. It is therefore crucial for landlords to comply with the new rules and ensure that checks are carried out correctly.
At Clapham & Collinge we have a dedicated team of expert solicitors who can provide you with all of the necessary information, support and legal advice, in relation to buy-to-let investments and conveyancing transactions. Contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the enquiry form.
For more information on Clapham and Collinge Buy to Let and Conveyancing services please see our dedicated webpage following this link.