Right to rent: new immigration checks legislation comes into force

From today landlords across England will face fresh legal responsibilities.

The background

Back in 2014, the Home Office got in touch with us to highlight some new legislation. Keen to crack down on rogue landlords - specifically those letting to illegal immigrants - they had plans to issue fresh requirements on the buy-to-let community. Following a successful regional pilot, the law has now gone countrywide, and from today (February 1) landlords letting in England will need to check every new tenant’s ‘right-to-rent’ in the UK.

So, what does right to rent involve?

Essentially, the government wants landlords to do more background checks. The legislation demanding that landlords take documents off every new tenant, copy them and keep them recorded.

Under the law, landlords will need to receive and make copies of documents like a tenant’s passport - although other documents are acceptable, check out the full list here. The checks can be carried out by landlords or, so long it’s agreed in writing, by agents.

Fail to do the checks completely, and you could face fines of up to £3000. Perhaps even criminal penalties, should the new Immigration Bill pass through the Lords.

A ‘bit rich’

Reaction to the legislation has been pretty negative across the buy-to-let community, many arguing that this brings more red tape and puts undue pressure on landlords. Conservative Lord Howard of Rising - a landlord himself - has been amongst those to raise concerns, stating:

“I find it a bit rich that landlords should risk imprisonment for housing an illegal immigrant when it is the Government’s failure in their duty to protect the borders of this country that has resulted in the illegal immigrant being here in the first place.

“I fully understand the difficulties in controlling our borders, which will inevitably lead to errors, but should the person responsible for the error go to prison?

“If those responsible for allowing illegal immigration should not go to jail, why should a landlord?

“I point out that the people most affected by this will be that huge army of very small landlords who do not have agents to act for them.”

In contrast some really don’t seem too concerned though, take this Twitter user for one:

Where do you stand on the legislation? Take our poll and tell us in the comments.

You find more right to rent information on the GOV.UK website here.

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