Do Residential Landlords Need to Check the Immigration Status of Tenants?
The answer to this question is: not yet…
The Immigration Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and will come into force over several phases. On 14 July 2014 the provisions in respect of reporting sham marriages will come into force. However, it is the duty imposed on residential landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants that will be of most interest to many. This obligation is not yet in force, but from the Government’s factsheet it seems that it is intended to be implemented from October 2014.
Once in force, residential landlords (and their agents if applicable) must ensure that they do not authorise an adult, who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status, to occupy premises under a residential tenancy agreement. A person is disqualified if they are not a “relevant national”, meaning a British citizen, a national of an EEA State or a national of Switzerland, and they do not have the right to rent in relation to the premises. This essentially means that where an individual is not from an EEA State or Switzerland, they will be disqualified from renting where they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it.
If a landlord (or their agents if applicable) contravenes the Act by granting a tenancy to a disqualified person, thereby granting them a right to occupy the premises, the landlord will be liable for a fine of up to £3,000.
As the Immigration Act 2014 is gradually brought into force, it is important for residential landlords to ensure that they know when these provisions apply. In the meantime, landlords and agents may wish to update their standard systems in preparation for these new obligations.