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Residential Landlords - What You Should Check Before You Let

Posted on July 5th 2017 by

 

Due to the introduction of the Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016, statutory provisions have been introduced requiring residential landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants before letting out their property for use as their only or main home. If the immigration status is not checked, the landlord could face a fine of up to £3,000 or a prison term of up to 5 years.

What are the requirements?

  • Immigration status of the tenant and all adult occupiers of the property need to be checked to ensure that their status allows them to be in the UK.

  • Immigration status should be checked even if there is no tenancy agreement or the tenancy agreement is not in writing.

  • The check should be done in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.

The following types of accommodation are excluded from the requirements;

  • Accommodation involving local authorities;

  • Social housing;

  • Care homes, hospitals and hospices;

  • Hostels and refuges;

  • Holiday accommodation with bookings for less than 3 months;

  • Mobile homes;

  • Halls of residence;

  • Leases which grant a right of occupation for a term of 7 years or more are exempt. Unless the lease contains a break clause before the end of 7 years.

What checks are required?

A landlord can use the documents set out in List A or B to satisfy a right to rent check.  List A contains documents which may be accepted to demonstrate the right for a British Citizen, EEA or Swiss national who has an indefinite right to be in the UK. List B contains a range of documents acceptable for a person who has a time-limited right to be in the UK.

Full details of List A and list B can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/573057/6_1193_HO_NH_Right-to-Rent-Guidance.pdf

Who has permanent right to rent?

  • British citizens; European Economic Area nationals which includes; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK; and Swiss nationals,

  • People who have a right of abode in the UK

  • Those who have been granted indefinite leave to remain; or have no time limit on their stay in the UK.

Who has time limited right to rent?

Those who are not British citizens, EEA or Swiss nationals who have;

  • valid leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time or

  • are entitled to enter or remain in the UK as a result of Acts of Parliament, European Union Treaties and Immigration Regulations (e.g. family members of EEA nationals).

Sub-letting

If an occupier sub-lets to a person for money they will become the landlord for the purpose of the scheme and will be liable to a penalty if they do not undertake sufficient checks into the immigration status. However, they can ask their landlord to agree to accept responsibility.

Agents

Landlords can agree in writing with an agent who will be responsible for checking the immigration status. If the agent establishes that a person does not have the right to rent, the landlord will be responsible if they enter into the tenancy anyway.

Further checks

Follow up checks should be completed if the prospective tenant had a time limited right to rent at the time of the expiration date otherwise they will be open to a fine, penalty and criminal conviction.

Further checks should also be undertaken on renewal of the tenancy.

If an occupiers right to rent has expired or they cannot provide documentation to their continued right to rent, then the Landlord should make a report to the Home Office. 

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