Landlords must check tenants’ immigration status or face a £3,000 fine

Following a pilot scheme in the West Midlands, landlords across England will now have the additional responsibility of checking for illegal tenants, from autumn 2015.

A “right to rent” trial, which was conducted from December 2014, has resulted in one landlord being served with a fine for almost £2,000, though the penalty is reportedly being appealed.

Now, landlords and letting agents in Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, and Dudley are legally obliged to check the nationality and visa status of their tenants.

For every tenant who is living in a property, who has no right to rent, a penalty will be served.

Furthermore, every landlord in England will soon have to fulfil the requirements of the “right to rent” rules, which will be rolled out across the country over the course of the next few months.

Critics have claimed that the legislation asks too much of landlords, particularly as they are likely to lack the knowledge or expertise needed to successfully check if their tenants are allowed to live in Britain.

Other issues are likely to arise from the fact that immigration checks could potentially flout anti‑discrimination laws, especially as landlords and letting agents are not permitted to choose tenants on the basis of nationality or race.

Any tenants that have proof of being rejected unfairly can sue landlords under the 2010 Equality Act.

Awards given for ‘injury to feelings’, for example, can cost an average of £6,500, so landlords should seek advice regarding their legal situation.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.