Following the Immigration Act 2014, the burden on landlords has increased yet further. Private landlords of residential premises are now obliged to check the immigration status of a prospective tenant before entering into an AST. The checks have to be carried out on the tenants but also any other authorised occupier of the property who is over 18 (or turns 18 during the period of the tenancy) and the rules apply whether or not there is a written tenancy agreement.
The landlord will need to establish whether the tenant or occupier has an unlimited right to rent or a time-limited right to rent. Those with an unlimited right to rent are British citizens, nationals from the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals. If the occupier or tenant has an unlimited right to rent, the landlord need only carry out the checks before the AST is entered into.
Those with a time-limited right to rent include those persons which have valid leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time, for example, asylum seekers. If the occupier or tenant has a time-limited right to rent the landlord needs to carry out its check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy and re-check every 12 months or before the time-limited right to rent expires.
The government has supplied a list of documents which are acceptable for the landlord to check and the originals of those documents must be checked in the presence of that tenant/occupier. The landlord needs to keep a full record of the checks carried out and we would suggest keeping a record of the full name of the tenant/occupier, their date of birth, the document checked (a copy of the document could also be taken), the immigration status (unlimited/time-limited) and the date of the check. Failure to carry out the checks can result in a fine of up to £3000 so it is in the interest of landlords to ensure proper records are kept.
For more information on this issue or any other issues concerning residential tenancies please contact Michael Clark