If you intend to create a tenancy (or sub-tenancy) on or after 1 February 2016, you have a duty to undertake identity checks to ensure that a tenant or lodger has the right to rent in accordance with the Immigration Act 2014, whether there is a written tenancy agreement or not (subject only to very limited exceptions). This duty has been in force since 1 December 2014 in respect of properties in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
The checks must be carried out within the 28 days before the start of the tenancy in respect of everyone aged 18 or over who will be living at the property as their only or main home, whether or not they are named in the tenancy agreement.
The Home Office have issued guidance to help landlords perform the checks, including the categories of documents that are acceptable for the right to rent checks. They also set out three golden rules:
- Obtain the original versions of one or more of the acceptable documents to ensure that the tenant/occupier has the right to rent;
- Check that the documents are valid are genuine in the presence of the holder; and
- Make and keep clear copies of the documents, and record the date that you made the checks.
Whilst some landlords do not currently name all occupiers on tenancy agreements, they should now seriously consider naming everyone aged 18 or over on the tenancy agreement and including a clause in the tenancy agreement prohibiting anyone else occupying the property without the landlord’s prior written consent.
The Landlords’ Guide to Checking Immigration Documents, as published by the Home Office at the date of this article, can be found by following the following link. You must however ensure that you check the most up to date guidance when undertaking the checks.
Landlords who fail to properly carry out the checks face a fine of up to £3,000.
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