There has been much speculation in the media regarding the proposed Immigration Bill, which will include duties to carry out immigration checks by landlords on prospective tenants. Although there were reports that these provisions would be scrapped, Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed her plans to press ahead with these. This is anticipated to become law by 2014 (subject to approval by MPs).
Will carrying out immigration checks by?landlords be necessary?
The Aims of Bill
In a bid to tackle the social and economic problems caused by illegal migration, the Immigration Bill aims to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live in the UK. It also addresses the small minority of landlords who knowingly target and exploit illegal migrants.
It is anticipated that once introduced, the requirements placed on landlords will simply be an extension of the current employer?s duty to ensure their employees have a right to work in the UK. The UK Border Agency will likely issue landlords with guidance on the requirements, as it does already for employers.
The Proposals of the Bill
Whilst the full extent of the proposals are not yet known, ?it is understood that the measures imposed will require all private landlords to conduct simple checks on the immigration status of their tenants. Landlords will therefore be required to:
- ask prospective tenants to produce identification from a checklist of specified documents
- check the documentary evidence and keep a copy of it for their records
- not lease the property to a tenant who cannot produce satisfactory evidence of their right to reside in the UK
These checks should be completed before entering into a lease. The responsibility for completing the checks will rest with the landlord.? However if an agent is managing a property and sourcing tenants for a landlord, it can reasonably be expected by a landlord that such checks will form part of the agent?s duties. Under those circumstances, the agent may face the liability and sanctions for non-compliance. Where an agent does not intend to carry out such checks on behalf of the landlord, this should be explicitly set out in writing to the landlord.
Landlords or their agents may be fined up to ?3,000 per tenant if they are found to have rented to an illegal migrant without carrying out the necessary checks.
Should you have any further queries regarding these proposals, please contact a member of our LetLaw team who will be happy to chat further.