The starting date for the Government’s pilot scheme on checking tenant immigration rights is nearly here. The scheme, which will launch on 1 December, is aimed at curbing the influx of illegal immigration within the country, and setting a broader legislative standard for landlords conducting tenant checks.
The introduction of the scheme is a step towards fulfilling the requirements of the Immigration Act 2014, which became law earlier this year and builds on the Government’s ongoing reforms to make sure the immigration system works in the national interest.
Landlords caught in breach of the legislation will face fines of up to £3,000. To begin with only select areas in the West Midlands will be affected: Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
James Brokenshire, the Immigration and Security Minister, has said that the checks will be quick and simple, whilst doing a lot to help root out Britain’s immigration offenders.
He said: “They will … act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out substandard, overcrowded and unsafe accommodation. Landlords in the West Midlands will have all the advice and support they need in advance of the checks going live.
“Many responsible landlords already do this as a matter of routine, and most legal renters will have the correct documentation ready to hand. In most cases landlords will be able to carry out their simple checks without the need to contact the home office.”
Under new legislation, landlords will require evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship before a property is rented. Copies will need to be taken as evidence and retained for one year after the tenancy ends.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) has already set out to warn and prepare affected landlords.
NLA Chairman, Carolyn Uphill, said: “In some areas as early as this December, the Immigration Act will place a legal responsibility on landlords to help prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented accommodation.”