The Immigration Act 2014 introduced a requirement for landlords of private rental accommodation to conduct checks to establish that new tenants have the right to live in the UK.
Landlords who rent to illegal migrants without conducting these checks will be liable for a civil penalty of up to £3000. If the landlord engages a letting agent to conduct background checks on tenants then the letting agent will be responsible for compliance.
The Government has recently released further information on how the scheme will operate and be implemented. Implementation will begin in a pilot area somewhere in the UK. The location of the pilot area is expected to be announced in September. The checks will then become mandatory for landlords in the rest of the UK at some point in 2015.
The Government believes that the checks will be simple to conduct and in most cases the landlord/letting agent will be able to carry them out without assistance. However, the Home Office has committed to providing a range of resources to help landlords and letting agents with compliance including:
• an online “right to live in the UK” checking resource with samples of acceptable documents
• a free phone enquiry and checking service
• an email enquiry service with a 48 hour turn around – if there is no response in 48 hours the landlord can proceed with the let
Further information on the Government proposals can be found here.
The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) joined a number of housing organisations including the Residential Landlords Association, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Chartered Institute of Housing, Shelter Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council in opposing the legislation.
We met with MSPs and issued joint statements of concern to both the Scottish and UK governments stating that the legislation was “inappropriate in principle, unworkable and almost certain to be ineffective”.