Harefield Gazette - - UXBRIDGE PROPERTY -

this month, land­lords will be re­spon­si­ble, by law, for check­ing the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of ten­ants be­fore rent­ing proper ty to them and could face hefty sanc­tions if they fail to.

De­tailed guid­ance for land­lords has been pub­lished, but here is a brief guide to what you need to be aware of if you are a land­lord, or propos­ing to be­come one.

The Im­mi­gra­tion Act be­came law in May but the changes as to who car­ries out the checks are to be ap­plied in phases. To this end, it is pro­posed that a pi­lot will be­gin in Oc­to­ber, although de­tails of where and how this will be put into ac­tion are yet to be con­firmed.

Es­sen­tially, in due course, all res­i­den­tial land­lords will be re­quired to ex­am­ine the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of all prospec­tive ten­ants, to check whether they have per­mis­sion to be in the UK if they re­quire it.

If you do not check, and a ten­ant is sub­se­quently found not to have the right to re­side in the UK, you may be li­able to fines of up to £3,000, or even a stay in prison.

Some proper ty is ex­empt from the pro­pos­als – such as so­cial hous­ing, stu­dent and tourist ac­com­mo­da­tion – but most pri­vately rented ac­com­mo­da­tion will be af­fected by th­ese new rules.

If you think il­le­gal im­mi­grants may be liv­ing in a proper ty, there would be no li­a­bil­ity to the penalty if it the mat­ter is re­por ted to UK Visas and Im­mi­gra­tion.

The re­spon­si­bil­ity to make the checks can be trans­ferred to a let­ting agent if this is agreed in writ­ing.

So that the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of a prospec­tive ten­ant can be eas­ily found, it is also likely that on­line and freephone check­ing ser vices will be in­tro­duced.

If a ten­ant’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus has a time limit, you must make a new check ever y year, or con­duct the check prior to the ex­pir y date if that is later.

The guid­ance does need to be read and un­der­stood, as although land­lords are not ex­pected to have ex­per t im­mi­gra­tion knowl­edge, ig­no­rance of the new rules will not be a de­fence and it has been sug­gested that land­lords might want to con­sider tak­ing out in­surance against any pos­si­ble li­a­bil­ity.

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