In May this year, Royal Assent was given to the Immigration Act 2014. The government is getting tougher on illegal immigration and part of this legislation uses landlords to do so.
From October, if you rent a property or room in your house, you must ensure that the tenants have the right to reside in the UK, failure to do so could result in a penalty of £1,000 per adult residing in your property. If you are a letting agent, the price is bumped up to £3,000 per adult. The good news as far as I can see is that children are free!
The legislation takes effect from October so you need not worry about existing tenants, the law only applies to new tenancies. If you do have people from another country living in your rental and it is time to renew the contract, it would be wise to check their immigration status before you renew you could be liable for the £1,000 fine per person and the loss of rent as they are rapidly deported from the country.
There are exemptions from the checks such as children, social housing tenants recommended by the council, your employees (who should be checked through your business anyway), holiday lets for less than 3 months, commercial lets, homeless accommodation and student halls of residence.
Acceptable evidence are passports or national identity cards for British or EU nationals. Those from outside will need either a Biometric residence permit or a passport containing a UK immigration stamp that is valid. If you are not familiar with these, it is well worth having a quick check on google images when next vetting a tenant from out of town.
Finally, and the trickiest part in my mind, it is not just the person who signs the contract you have to check the immigration status of, you must make reasonable efforts to do so for all adults living in the property. Without standing guard on the front door 24 hours a day, I fail to see how this can be achieved but we will wait and see until the first legal action goes through the courts.
Haydar Sehri's Blog