Solicitor Pippa Lee, in our Dispute Resolution team, discusses the immigration checks required for residential tenants under the Immigration Act 2014.
Following on from previous articles published last year, the immigration checks required for residential tenants under the Immigration Act 2014 have now been extended to the whole of England.
From the 1st February 2016 private landlords of residential properties in England must check the immigration status of prospective tenants to ensure that they have the right to live in the UK.
Under the Immigration Act 2014, a person is disqualified from occupying premises under a residential tenancy agreement if they are not a relevant national and do not have a “right to rent”.
A person is not a relevant national if they are not:
- A British citizen;
- A national of an EEA State; or
- A national of Switzerland.
A person does not have a “right to rent” if they require leave to remain in the UK and do not have it, or they have leave to enter or remain in the UK but such leave is subject to a condition preventing them from occupying the premises.
Checks to be carried out
Landlords, or their agents, must check the original documentation (e.g. passports, national identity card or permanent residence card) of all prospective tenants and occupiers. The original document should be checked in the presence of the prospective tenant and copies should be taken and retained by the landlord or agent, with a note of the date of the check.
For those individuals who do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, the landlords or agents should ensure that they conduct ongoing checks as necessary.
For further guidance, the Home Office has released a Right to Rent Guidance document.
Penalties for non-compliance
If landlords, or their agents, fail to carry out the above checks then they could face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant.
The Immigration Bill 2015-16, which is currently going through Parliament, may also make it a criminal offence if landlords or agents repeatedly fail to conduct the right to rent checks. The offences may include fines, imprisonment and further sanction under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The following residential tenancy agreements are excluded from the above requirements, if they fall within Schedule 3 of the Immigration Act 2014:
- Social housing;
- Care Homes;
- Hospitals and hospices;
- Other accommodation relating to healthcare provision;
- Hostels and refuges;
- Accommodation provided by virtue of immigration provisions;
- Mobile homes;
- Tied accommodation;
- Student accommodation; and
- Long leases.
For further information or legal advice, please contact email@example.com or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.