Many UK landlords unfamiliar with new immigration checks
Posted on December 27, 2014
UK landlords do not fully understand the new immigration checks they are being required to undertake and those already doing so are not happy about it, new research shows.
Landlords in the West Midlands are already compelled to check the immigration status of would be tenants under a pilot scheme that is set to be rolled out across the country next year.
However, as study, conducted by online letting agent Property Let By Us, has found that nine out of 10 landlords don’t fully understand the immigration checks and a further nine out of 10 landlords believe that the new immigration legislation places too much responsibility on them.
The research also reveals that 100% of landlords intend to rely on their letting agent or reference agency to conduct the checks and 93% of landlords don’t feel confident making the checks themselves.
What’s more, over a quarter of landlords think that the legislation will lead to a rise in unscrupulous landlords renting ‘beds in sheds’, a fifth believe it will make it much harder for immigrants to find a property to rent and 10% of landlords think the new legislation will cause homelessness for some immigrants.
The vast majority of landlords say they will be much more wary about taking on immigrant tenants.
‘It is clear that landlords aren’t comfortable with the legislation and will be relying on letting agents and reference firms to help them comply with the new rules,’ said Jane Morris, managing director of PropertyLetByUs.
‘The pilot in the West Midlands will hopefully iron out many of the issues and that when the new rules are rolled out nationally in 2015, landlords will feel more comfortable with what is required of them,’ she explained.
The firm points out that it is important that landlords prepare themselves for the new ‘right to rent’ checks, as any non-compliance will mean that landlords could face a £3,000 fine. The Immigration Act requires landlords to check whether prospective tenants are in the country legally. Landlords will have to see ‘evidence’, for example a passport or a biometric residence permit, an official form of identification provided by the Home Office.
The new rules will require landlords to check whether potential tenants and occupants over 18 have a ‘right to rent’ before entering into a new tenancy agreement. All adults who will occupy the property as their main home, not just named tenants, should be checked. If they turn 18 during the tenancy, no initial or follow up checks are required. These rules apply to new tenancies only. Renewals are excluded if all parties remain the same and there has been no break.
‘The Home Office will carry out checks on individual properties and landlords if they receive information from a workplace, a raid, a tip-off from neighbours, follow up on an immigration application and/or if the landlord has been identified as operating outside the law in other respects,’ added Morris.
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