New ‘right to rent’ checks come closer - Palmers Solicitors

New ‘right to rent’ checks come closer

A new requirement for residential landlords to check tenants’ “right to rent” has come a step closer.

The Immigration Act 2014, which received Royal Assent on 14 May, includes a requirement that landlords carry out checks to ensure new tenants have the right to rent in the UK, making it harder for illegal immigrants to rent homes.

The requirement will eventually affect all UK residential landlords, both property letting businesses and individuals, but Prime Minister David Cameron announced on 29 July that the new obligations would initially be implemented in one part of the UK only, late in 2014.

It was announced on 4 September that the new requirements would be trialled in the West Midlands from 1 December, with experiences in the region evaluated in spring 2015 before a wider rollout.

The new rules mean that residential landlords will need to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and other authorised occupiers, to ensure they have the right to occupy the premises, before granting a new tenancy agreement. The checks will apply to everyone aged 18 and over who will live at the premises.

Landlords will also be responsible for checking that someone’s right to occupy the premises does not lapse. Failure to comply with the new rules could result in a civil penalty of up to £3,000.

There will be no requirement on landlords to carry out retrospective checks relating to existing tenancy agreements. A prospective tenant would be disqualified from occupying property under a residential tenancy agreement when:

  • they are not a relevant national, i.e. they are not a British citizen, a national of a European Economic Area country or a national of Switzerland
  • they do not have a right to rent in relation to the property, e.g. if they must have permission to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it or they have permission but it is subject to certain conditions that prevent them from occupying the premises.

Palmers’ Property Litigation specialists can provide comprehensive advice all aspects of residential property letting legislation and how it affects landlords. For more information, please contact Andrew Skinner.