Following on from a pilot trial in the West Midlands the Government has announced that from 1 February 2016 all private landlords in England will have to carry out right to rent checks. This is similar to the existing “right to work” regime for employees and will entail checking that all tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out property.
Failure by landlords to carry out the check can result in a fine of up to £3,000 for each tenant aged 18 or over who is found to be in the UK illegally.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
“Right to rent checks are quick and simple, and many responsible landlords already do them as a matter of routine… Right to rent is about deterring those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK illegally”.
Landlords will be required to check relevant identity documents (e.g. a passport, national identity card or registration certificate) for all new tenants and to take copies in order to establish a “statutory excuse” from a fine or penalty. This will be the case not only for landlords but also those taking in lodgers or subletting properties and property agents appointed to make the checks.
Repeat checks will then also be required for those tenants who have time limited permissions.
The Government has committed to assisting landlords in this process and a code of practice together with confirmation of what documents will be acceptable have been posted on the Government website.
Somewhat tellingly a further guidance in respect of unlawfully discriminating when carrying out the checks has also been published, as the implications of adopting inconsistent practices are obvious and this was a particular concern during the prior consultation process.
So the drive on illegal immigration continues. The Government has recently cracked down on sham colleges, beefed up the right to work regime and consequential penalties and is now setting its sights nationally on the rental sector, with no sign of letting up.
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