Eight in ten landlords ‘unaware of immigration check legislation’

(10/11/14)

The majority of landlords are unaware of the impending legislation that will require them to carry out immigration checks on potential tenants.

As of December 1st, the ‘right to rent’ legislation will come into force in the West Midlands regions of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. This means landlords will need to check any tenants they take on have a legal right to live in the UK. The scheme will then rolled out nationwide at a later date.

However, a survey carried out by Easyroommate.co.uk found 80 per cent of rental property owners are completely unaware of the rules. Meanwhile, 30 per cent claimed they do not plan to comply.

As far as letting agents are concerned, this means there is an extra responsibility to ensure any landlords they work with are aware of the need for the immigration checks to be carried out. If not, a fine of up to £3,000 could be imposed.

Some 75 per cent of the landlords surveyed either thought there was no penalty associated with non-compliance or were unsure.

Easyroommate spokesperson Maya Harruna stated: “It’s unfortunate to see that not many landlords are aware of the right to rent legislation, especially since it is due to launch shortly.

“Considering the harsh financial penalties, it is essential that homeowners are made fully aware of all aspects and can confirm if the new rules apply to them or not.”

According to the government, the checks process will be relatively simple, with most cases only needing the potential tenant to show their passport, which the landlord or letting agent will then take a copy of.

For people from outside the UK or European Economic Area, a biometric residence permit will be required. Again, a copy will need to be taken of this and then kept until a year after the tenancy has ended.

There are a number of exemptions to the legislation, such as accommodation provided by an employer and university halls of residence.