From today, 1st December 2014, under the new Immigration Act, landlords, letting agents, and home owners who let rooms or properties in the West Midlands will need to check that potential tenants have the right to live in the UK. Failure to carry out these checks could face a fine up to £3,000.
The government announced in September that the new “right to rent” measures introduced as part of the Immigration Act, would be phased in across the UK, initially being implemented in the West Midlands.
The “right to rent” checks only apply to:
Landlords in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton
All adults aged 18 and over living at the property
New tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 December 2014 (there is no need to check tenants who are already renting before this date)
The checks are straightforward and simple and the majority of landlords will be able to conduct them without having to contact the Home Office. In most cases the checks will involve the landlord seeing no more than the documents t they already need to see when conducting due diligence, credit or tenant referencing checks (for example a passport, residence card, biometric immigration document issued by the Home Office).
If a prospective tenant is unable to provide a landlord with relevant documentation either because they have an outstanding immigration application or appeal or because the Home Office has their documents, landlords can request a check from the Landlord Checking Service which went live on 03 November 2014 using the online form.
Support for landlords
The checks are straightforward and the majority of landlords will be able to conduct checks without having to contact the Home Office.
To help landlords verify a potential tenant has the right to live in the UK, the Home Office has set up an online checker. The checker also helps if they need to ask the Home Office to carry out an official right to rent check.
To help landlords comply with the scheme, a dedicated helpline has been set up: 0300 069 9799 where you can get more information. The helpline can also carry out checks on individuals who have an ongoing immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, or whose documents are with the Home Office.
Landlords can also register here to receive updates on the right to rent checks.