Friday, 22 August 2014


From October, landlords will be responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants. If they fail to comply, they could be hit with a £3,000 fine or even end up in jail.

Landlords are to be made responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants before renting property to them under the new Immigration Act. Brokers take heed, as your clients may be fined up to £3,000 – and in extreme cases may face imprisonment - if they do not comply.

The Immigration Act became law on 14 May 2014. However, the changes to immigration checks are to be implemented in phases, with a pilot proposed to start as early as October 2014.

Essentially, residential landlords will be required to examine the immigration status of all prospective tenants in order to check whether those tenants have permission to be in the UK if they require it. If they do not, the property is let and the tenant subsequently is found not to have the right to live in the UK, the landlord may be subject to a fine of up to £3,000.

There will be detailed guidance for landlords published before October. Also, an on-line check, whereby the immigration status of a prospective tenant can be found, is likely to be introduced together with a free phone checking service. There are also methods to object to the penalty and to appeal via the courts.

If a tenant’s immigration status has a time limit, the landlord must also make a new check every year on this, or to conduct the check prior to the expiry date if that is later.

Some property is exempt from the proposals, such as social housing, student and tourist accommodation, but most privately rented accommodation is impacted by this. If a landlord thinks illegal immigrants may be living in a property, there would be no liability to the penalty if it were reported to UK Visas and Immigration.

The responsibility to make the checks can also be transferred to a letting agent if this is agreed in writing.

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