The landlords guide to the 2015 Immigration Act

Landlords must constantly keep an eye on any changing legislation, not least the 2014 Immigration Act, which means homeowners now have a greater responsibility to ensure that non-British tenants are complying with the law.

With a new pilot scheme in place, landlords must make absolutely sure they are not liable, should the legality of an individual's residence in the UK be brought into question.

Before the tenancy is agreed

As soon as a potential tenant shows interest in a property, the landlord must ensure they have all the relevant background information before they enter into a contract. This can be done through the presentation of identification documents like passports and working visas, but also handled by a third party.

Tenant referencing is a process that can be time consuming and a potentially complex task for those who are not sure how to access the relevant information. Contacting a referencing provider can lead to any issues being identified quickly and efficiently, before entering into any financial agreements.

Comprehensive referencing

Using professional referencing services not only saves the landlord time and money, but they can also be sure that the references are robust. Comprehensive reports will include the following as a minimum:

  • Full credit history search for 3 years
  • Residency checks over the last 3 years
  • References obtained from employers and previous landlords
  • Electoral Roll confirmation
  • Alias name check
  • Employment and income verification
  • Financial sanctions check
  • Use of anti-fraud techniques
  • Clear and concise reports delivered in plain English

In some instances, a guarantor may be required if the applicant fails to meet the required data. The guarantor will then be referenced in the same manner as a full reference. In all instances, the Immigration Act 2014 places the onus on the landlord not to authorise disqualified tenants. This applies before the contractual tenancy agreement and during the tenancy.

Seek government advice

If a landlord is in any way unsure about the Immigration Act or any impending changes, there is a wealth of advice out there. Tenant referencing service providers will always be up to date on new legislation and will have advisors available to speak to directly about any worries or minor queries.

In cases where a tenant is found to be living in the UK illegally, the landlord is not always liable, as long as they have carried out the correct checks. If you have any queries about where the homeowner's responsibilities start and end, don't hesitate to contact your local authority.

Keep tenants informed

The key to a successful tenancy is to always be clear and transparent with residents. An application process that is thorough and consistent, as well as utilising the third party services available, is the best way of achieving this.

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