£3,000 fines for landlords who fail to comply with new immigration rules
Thursday 3rd March 2016
Landlords must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent their property. Failure to do so could result in a £3,000 fine and a criminal record.
This means checking before the start of a new tenancy whether their prospective tenants (aged 18 or over) are allowed to stay in the UK.
It is, in our view, essential that landlords carry out checks on all their prospective tenants to avoid the risk of a fine. They risk breaking discrimination laws if they only carry out checks on people they “think” are not British citizens.
The required checks involve:
- Reviewing original documents demonstrating that the tenant is allowed to live in the UK.
- Ensuring documents are genuine and belong to the prospective tenant. Checks must be carried out with the prospective tenant present.
- Taking copies of the documents and recording the date that the check was made. If a tenant’s permission to stay is time-limited then further checks will be needed to be carried out. These need to be done either.
- Just before the expiry date of the tenant’s right to remain in the UK; or
- 12 months after the last check was carried out.
A fine and criminal record can be imposed on landlords if they fail to carry out subsequent checks.
Having carried out the subsequent checks, landlords also must inform the Home Office if they discover that their tenant cannot legally continue to rent. They risk a fine if they fail to do this.
There is no reason why an agent cannot carry out the checks on behalf of the landlord. However, this will not absolve landlords of their responsibility for the checks. It is therefore essential that any agreement with the agent to do this is in writing and clearly sets out the agent’s responsibilities.