17 June 2015
Landlord Pre-Letting Immigration Checks
In the final part of our three-part series on issues landlords in the residential sector need to consider, we give some top tips to landlords to ensure that they do not fall foul of the law regarding the introduction of new pre-letting immigration checks.
I Am What I Am
Landlords should check all tenants and any adult occupiers at the property (whether or not they are named in the letting document).
• the check should be carried out before the letting arrangement is entered into. Have a look at the Home Office website and the right to rent tool;
• obtain documentary evidence of the occupiers’ immigration status and retain a copy of this for the duration of the letting and for 12 months afterwards. Codes of practice will list the documents that can be accepted as proof of status. These are likely to include a UK/EU/Swiss/Diplomatic passport, national ID cards and biometric residence cards;
• landlords only need to repeat their initial checks where the original pre-letting checks show that a proposed occupier has a temporary right to remain in the UK. In that case, the checks need to be repeated every 12 months or (if longer) when the occupier’s temporary right expires;
• ensure that you put in place a pre-letting protocol as detailed below.
• enquire who will actually be using the property and retain a copy of those enquiries;
• obtain copies of acceptable immigration documents for all identified occupiers;
• diarise the expiry date of any temporary right to remain in the UK and ensure re-checks take place;
• retain immigration documents during the tenancy and for 12 months afterwards;
• ask for details of all occupiers with temporary rights to stay in the UK and bear in mind that the new landlord will be responsible for carrying out any repeat checks after it acquires the property;
• be clear about who is responsible for conducting the checks. If an agent has been appointed to undertake the checks on the landlord’s behalf, ensure there is a written agreement setting this out;
• protect the deposit received and ensure that any prescribed information is served on the tenant within 30 days of receipt.
Immediate Action You Need To Take
• If you have managing agents, ensure that the management agreement covers the duty to carry out immigration checks;
• When acquiring a residential property, ask for details of all occupiers with temporary rights to stay in the UK. A new landlord will be responsible for carrying out any repeat checks after it acquires the property.
The Home Office will operate an enquiry service to help in situations where landlords are unclear about the documentation that can be expected or the need to verify some of the less common forms of documents. In addition, there is the right to rent tool on the Home Office website.
Various food for thought but best to take immediate action now rather than face the consequences later. We will keep you posted on developments.
If you would like to read the previous blogs in this series you can find them here:
In the meantime if you need legal advice as a tenant or landlord our expert team of property lawyers at Slater and Gordon can help. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9083 or contact us online and we will call you.