The implications of the Immigration Act

(05/12/14)

The Immigration Act 2014, which came into force from December 1st, means potential tenants will need to be vetted to check if they have the right to live in the UK. What does this new legislation hold in store for landlords and letting agents ‘

Fran Mulhall, operations and lettings manager of GFWLettings, believes that the pace of growth being seen in the industry means that increased regulation is required in order to protect all parties involved and weed out rogue traders.

The new legislation will mean that landlords and lettings agents will need to conduct background checks on prospective tenants to ensure that they have the right to live in the UK.

If this investigation isn’t carried out and it is revealed later down the line that the tenant is in breach of the Immigration Act, then a landlord will face a fine of up to £3,000.

Ms Mulhall said: “The aim is to drive out the rogue landlords – and agents – who deal with illegal residents which I, of course, welcome as these traders do affect the market but I worry about the implications of this legislation and how it’ll affect the health of the lettings industry.”

She feels that key issues to consider are how the immigration check will be managed and where the liability lies when things go wrong even when the landlord had tried their best to comply.

According to Ms Mulhall, even if a letting agent is used, the responsibility will ultimately lie with the landlord to ensure that the check is carried out. She said they should ask the agent how it will be done, for example will it be incorporated into the reference check?

“I think the immigration check is going to prove too much of a minefield for landlords and agents alike,” Ms Mulhall warned.

If the potential tenant has a UK passport then it should be an easy job, but if they don’t posess this or an equivalent, then it will prove to be a tough task. According to Ms Mulhall, it could lead to discrimination, whereby a person is refused the tenancy because the landlord wants to be safe rather than sorry.

The true implications of the Immigration Act 2014 will not be realised until it has been in force for a while, so agents and landlords will have to just wait and see how easy to manage it will be.