Landlords – Are You Ready For The New Immigration Bill?

The recent situation in Calais has prompted a further change in the legal responsibilities facing landlords in the UK. In a forthcoming amendment to the Immigration Bill, landlords who fail to confirm the immigration status of their tenants may face a hefty fine or imprisonment for up to five years.

The government’s Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, also announced his intention to create a ‘blacklist’ of landlords who are persistent offenders.

As an additional move, new measures to prevent landlords from renting out sub-standard properties will also be announced.

This is a step beyond the requirements of the Immigration Act of 2014 and the ‘Right To Rent’ legislation introduced last year which required landlords to vet the rights of their new tenants to live in the UK.

As a landlord, here’s the information you will need to obtain from your tenants to comply with the new rules:-

  • Request proof of the tenant’s right to live in the UK, for example, a copy of their UK or EU passport or visa where relevant. Take a photocopy of all information and retain it for your records for at least a year after the tenancy agreement has ended.
  • If the tenant is unable to provide a valid passport or visa, you are required to complete an online form on the Home Office website to ascertain whether the applicant has the right to live and work in the UK.

Once you have ascertained that information, we recommend the following additional reference checks to confirm the suitability of your tenant:-

  • Confirm the tenant’s current and previous address via the electoral role.
  • Obtain information on the tenant’s credit history, such as County Court Judgements, bankruptcy and so on.
  • Request copies of the tenant’s recent bank statements to ensure they are in employment and can afford to pay the rent. At Redstones, we recommend requesting at least six months of bank statements. To put this issue in perspective, almost a third of landlords experienced problems with rent arrears in 2014 according to the National Landlords Association.
  • Request a reference from their current employer to confirm their employment status and level of earnings.

As an additional safeguard we recommend that you obtain a reference from your prospective tenant’s previous or current landlord. The questions below will help to assess the suitability of your tenant:-

  • How long has the tenant occupied their current rental property?
  • Has the rent been paid on time consistently during the tenancy agreement?
  • Is the tenant currently in arrears or have they been in arrears previously?
  • Has the property been looked after during the tenancy agreement?
  • Would the current landlord be happy to rent a property to the tenant again?

If your prospective tenant is a former home owner who has recently sold their property and wishes to rent in the short term, standard credit and reference checks should confirm their suitability.

Don’t get caught out by changes to your legal obligations, now or in the future.

At Redstones, we understand that the growing number of legal obligations can prove to be a burden for landlords. For your peace of mind we offer a range of lettings services to suit your needs, including our Platinum Total Care Service which guarantees that your rent is always paid on time, regardless of whether the tenant has paid.

Contact us today to find out more.

Further reading

8 Landlord Obligations You Need To Know

6 Common Mistakes Made By New Landlords