Since the introduction of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords are obligated to run an identification check on prospective tenants to ensure their right to live in the United Kingdom.

It must be said that “all” tenants should undergo the check as “it’s against the law to only check people you think aren’t British citizens”.

Landlords are required to see documents like a passport or a residence permit which clearly demonstrate the tenant’s allowance to stay in the United Kingdom and keep not manipulable copies for the length of the tenancy according the Data Protection Law. Especially now, with Brexit being voted, landlords will be obligated to run controls if the person has actually a right to stay in the UK. In case where a tenant has a limited allowance, landlords are liable to carry out checks or follow-up checks or made reports.

For further guidance on how to undertake a “Right to Rent” check, the government’s website provides more information: https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents

New regulations

On 12 May 2016, UK government established the new Immigration Act 2016, which has been designed to “further crack down on illegal migration”, and facilitate the enforcement of immigration laws by adding new measures preventing illegal immigrants to settle in the UK. Although the new law does not change the responsibilities of landlords, they are confronted with higher pressure of executing the “Right to Rent” check, as the new law comes with increased penalties alongside the existing fine structure in the 2014 act for landlords found guilty in failing to carry out “Right to Rent” checks.

Previously, the maximum penalty under the 2014 act was a £3,000 fine per tenant. If a landlord now knowingly rent to an illegal immigrant, unlimited fine and/or imprisonment for up to five years can be used as punishment.

The UK government explains that the introduced new vigorous penalties are mainly addressed to ruthless landlords who repeatedly ignore fulfilling their responsibilities such as the “Right to Rent” check or the eviction of any illegal tenants as quickly as reasonably justified.

For further, more detailed information and advices to avoid breaching the Immigration Act and with it the liability for a civil penalty for such a breach, we recommend you to read the official “Code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation”

Please find the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice/code-of-practice-on-illegal-immigrants-and-private-rented-accommodation-for-tenancies-starting-on-or-after-1-february-2016