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The Importance of Landlord Immigration Checks
1st July 2014
As a landlord, you'll know how vital it is to vet prospective tenants before they let your property. References are essential, to prevent nasty surprises down the line. Do you also carry out immigration checks for your prospective tenants? If not, then you'll soon be breaking the law and could be liable to a serious fine.
The United Kingdom is becoming an increasingly popular destination for people from outside of the European Union. As our economy continues to recover from the global recession at a faster rate than many other countries, this trend is only going to increase. The government is concerned at the number of illegal immigrants entering the country, and one of their new policies is designed to stop people renting property in this country if they don't have a legal right to be here.
Unfortunately, the task of carrying out these checks has fallen on you. Since 14th May 2014, it is now a legal duty for landlords to check the lawful immigration status of all tenants before they rent or occupy your property. If you fail to carry out sufficient checks, you could be hit with a fine of up to £3000.
Although the law came into effect in May, it has not yet been implemented across the country. Pilot schemes will soon be carried out in selected areas. The government has not yet disclosed which areas will be selected, but London seems an obvious choice. Landlord immigration checks are expected to become mandatory nationwide from October onwards. That's why it's essential to be prepared now, and get into best practice before it becomes a legal necessity.
So how do you check the legal immigration status of a prospective tenant? The first important point is that you can't discriminate against tenants. This means that you'll have to check the immigration status of people from Britain and the European Union as well, by asking to see their passport or birth certificate.
Tenants from outside of the European Union will need to produce a passport, as well as an official document or visa giving them permission to stay in this country to work or study. You'll need to ensure that these documents are in date, and that the tenancy term will not extend beyond the date that they're allowed in this country. Some foreign students will be exempt as long as they can produce an official letter from their UK University giving them permission to stay in this country.
Do you want to be the first to fall foul of this new legislation? Of course not. A fine running into thousands of pounds can be avoided, as long as you start your process of carrying out immigration checks now. New legislation can always seem a little confusing, so if you need expert advice on landlord immigration checks just contact us here at Green's Property. We're always happy to help.