Landlords are being told to prepare for changes that will take effect in just a few months’ time, requiring them to check their prospective tenants are living in the UK legally.
Under the Immigration Act, landlords and agents will have to make the mandatory checks before allowing anybody to rent their properties.
The changes have been introduced in the face of widespread opposition from trade bodies, who fear that it will mean more red tape.
When the plans were first announced, the National Landlords Association said that the policy could have “dangerous and unintended” consequences.
And even since the bill received Royal Assent, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has called for the new arrangements to be reviewed in 12 months’ time.
There have been concessions however. The requirement to check a person’s immigration status only applies from October, with no requirement for a landlord to investigate the background of their existing tenants. The new rules will also not apply to refuges and hostels.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Many private landlords already make checks, on a tenant’s identity and credit status, making it difficult for illegal migrants to rent properties from them.
“However, not all landlords do it, so we propose to replicate the long-standing requirements for employers to check the immigration status of those they are about to employ.
“We are not asking landlords to become immigration experts. Those who undertake simple steps will have nothing to fear and there will not be a penalty.”
Landlords who fail to make the necessary checks will be subject to civil penalties.