Stressed Landlords

The Immigration Act – Your Questions Answered

As a landlord, one clear advantage of letting your property through a reputable agent is that you are kept up-to-date with any changes in the law relating to your tenancy agreement.

With effect from October this year, any landlord who does not check whether their tenants have the right to live in the UK may be fined.  This new law applies to a broad range of property owners, but notably to any landlord entering into a ‘residential tenancy agreement’.

At Redstones, we’ve received a number of questions from our clients over this matter and have attempted to answer them below.

What does a landlord need to do?

Before the tenancy agreement goes ahead, every landlord must check whether or not their prospective tenant has the right to live in the UK.  This extends to every adult who will be living in the property, regardless of whether their name is on the tenancy agreement or not.

What happens if a tenant has temporary permission to live in the UK?

A temporary right to live in the UK is normally granted to sponsored workers or students, for example. As a landlord you must carry out a second check when the temporary permission expires to assess whether or not it has been extended.

How does a landlord check an individual’s immigration status?

The current plan is for the government to create the ability for a landlord to check an immigrant’s status online.  In addition, an e-mail service and a telephone helpline will be made available.  By the end of this summer, a draft code of practice for landlords and lettings agents will also be issued via the government website.

Are existing tenancies affected?

Our understanding is that the new rules will only apply to tenancy agreements taking effect from October, although the specific date has not yet been advised. Existing tenancy agreements will not be affected, including renewals of those tenancies.

How does the Immigration Act apply to a lettings agency?

For landlords letting their property through a lettings agent, the responsibility for carrying out these checks lies with the lettings agent, not the property owner.  This means that any fines due as a result of negligence will be imposed on the lettings agent, not the landlord.  As always, the advice is to ensure you are letting your property through a reputable lettings agent. At Redstones, we carry out background checks on all of our tenants and will ensure that we comply in full with the new regulations giving all of our landlords peace of mind.

What fines could be imposed on landlords who fail to carry out appropriate checks?

Landlords (or lettings agents) who fail to carry out necessary checks or knowingly let their property to an individual who does not have permission to live in the UK may be fined up to £3,000 per tenant.

I’m a landlord, what should I do now?

As a landlord you should ensure the following:-

  • Properly check the immigration status of any tenant and additional occupants of your rented properties before entering into a tenancy agreement.
  • When their right to live in the UK is only temporary, always carry out further checks after that permission expires.

We would also recommend the following if you are working with a lettings agent:-

  • Read through the small print of your agreement with your lettings agent. You should ensure that your lettings agent cannot claim reimbursement of any fines imposed for their failure to carry out proper checks. If in doubt, ask.
  • Check the reputation and background of any lettings agent you work with.

Landlords who rent their properties through Redstones can be assured that we will comply with all aspects of the Immigration Act and carry out comprehensive checks on all of our tenants.

As a further note of advice we recommend that checks are carried out on all tenants and people living in your rental properties in order to avoid any claims of discrimination. Again, this does not affect landlords working with a reputable lettings agent as those checks will automatically be carried out for you.

If you are concerned about how this new law might affect your property portfolio, contact Redstones today.