Although the guidance does refer to “private rented accommodation” it will also impact upon private registered providers of social housing in some circumstances.
The Code relates to the Immigration Act 2014 (the “Act”) which received royal assent on 14 May 2014. The Act prevents landlords of residential properties from entering into residential tenancy agreements with certain persons depending on their immigration status. The new Act means that landlords will have to check the right of prospective tenants to be in the country, or risk a potential fine of up to £3000.
Landlords will need to:
- carefully review their allocation policies to ensure that that they meet the requirements of the “right to rent” checks. The prospective tenants must be:
- A British citizen;
- An EEA or Swiss national; or
- Have the “right to rent” in the UK because they are lawfully in the UK in accordance with immigration laws.
- ensure that they do not fall foul of data protection law; and
- ensure their checking processes are non-discriminatory.
Nominations made by local authorities to stock owned by housing associations will be excluded by virtue of the “social housing” exclusion. There are a number of other exclusions including student accommodation, accommodation provided in care homes, hospitals and hospices, and some residential agreements granting a right of occupation in a hostel and refuge. Unless one of the exceptions applies, private registered providers must comply with the Scheme.
Landlords who breach the provisions of the Act may be liable to a civil penalty of up to £3000, but can establish a statutory excuse where they can show that initial checks were conducted before allowing occupation of the rented accommodation, and where appropriate, in relation to those with a ‘time-limited’ right to rent, follow-up checks are conducted and there is proper reporting to the Home Office. An agent can be instructed to take responsibility for ensuring that steps are taken to establish the statutory excuse.
The scheme is to be ‘piloted’ in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, and Wolverhampton. For landlords in these areas the “right to rent” scheme comes into effect on 1st December 2014, with other areas to follow in 2015, and applies to residential tenancy agreements entered into on or after the date of implementation for that area. The Code provides further detail on how landlords should apply the scheme.
For more information
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