July 15, 2014

How will it affect landlords and tenants?

On the 14 May 2014 the Immigration Act 2014 received Royal Assent. Though the law is “passed”, we are now awaiting it being activated by a commencement order and this is awaiting some statutory guidance that forms part of the legislation. It is anticipated that the legislation will be brought into force in a trial area, possibly Manchester, in October 2014.

From fears of millions of foreign immigrants flooding into the UK at the beginning of the year and the European Elections just past, immigration never seems far off the agenda.

The purpose of this legislation is not about the feared Romanian influx, which would have been totally lawful, but addresses unlawful immigration. Part 3 specifically addresses a number of areas where unlawful immigrants will find it more difficult to stay in the UK. It brings in provisions relating to rented property, bank accounts driving licences and health care.

From the implementation of this legislation landlords, yes landlords not agents, will have the primary responsibility for ensuring that those using their properties for an only or main residence, are lawfully living in the UK. It is possible for the landlord to transfer responsibility to an agent but this is only the case if the responsibility it agreed to transfer is in writing. If landlords wish to rely on this provision they should ensure they keep a copy of any such written agreement.

The new legislation will require those letting properties to check the ID of all property applicants. Note the use of the word ‘all’. The ID should be checked for both UK and non UK nationals. Part of this is to avoid discrimination and part is to avoid non compliance. If a person said they were a UK national and did not have a passport, it might be an easy way to avoid the legislation. This is why all adults are required to be checked, and in fact copies of the documents checked are required to be kept for 12 months after the tenants finally leave. Care should be taken with those who may be around the point of becoming adults. Although the legislation only requires the checking of the ID of adults, you will not know the age of some without checking their ID!

There is a potential requirement for later checks on the status of those who do not have an unlimited right to remain in the UK. This recognises that someone allowed today to live in the UK may not have that right in a year’s time. Some checks in the future will therefore by potentially required.

Citizens of EU countries have the right to reside here along with a few other countries with special agreements. However, it is advised that the fact ID checks will be used is even put in adverts to deter those unlawfully in the UK.

This legislation will introduce additional work and requirements to letting in order to avoid the penalty of up to £3,000 per unlawful person found in the property, even if they are not actual tenants.