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Home Office announcement

The Home Office has asked TPO along with other organisations in the property sector to distribute the following information about the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014.

The provisions are being introduced on a phased basis, starting on 1st December in large parts of the West Midlands and it is important that landlords and tenants in the implementation area are aware of the need for these checks and how to perform them.

The Immigration Act 2014 introduces new restrictions that will apply to private residential rental agreements. The Act makes it illegal to rent accommodation to a person as their main or only home who is disqualified by their unlawful immigration status. This applies to landlords, lettings agents who act on their behalf, tenants who sublet accommodation, and those who accommodate lodgers in their own homes for rent. Those who provide rented accommodation to those with no 'right to rent' may be liable to a civil penalty of up to &3000 for each tenant. These provisions are part of the UK Government's strategy to ensure that the immigration system attracts the brightest and the best and restricts the opportunities for illegal immigrants to secure and sustain a settled lifestyle here, and to reduce the pull factor for others who would be illegal migrants.

Illegal immigrants are excluded from benefits, social housing and should not, otherwise be able to displace our lawful residents in accessing the finite housing stock. Illegal immigration is also associated with the incidence of irregular living arrangements and with rogue or criminal landlords who exploit their tenants.

The provisions will not impact upon tenancies that pre-date the implementation of the provisions in that area of the UK. In all new tenancy agreements, the landlord should conduct a simple document check to establish that a prospective tenant has a right to rent. This will enable the landlord to establish an excuse against a penalty if it is found they have rented accommodation to an illegal migrant. For the purposes of these provisions, these checks should be carried out in relation to all adults (those 18 and over) who will take up occupation of the accommodation whether they are the named tenants or not.

The right to rent checks are straightforward and have taken account of input from bodies representing landlords, lettings agents and housing charities. The vast majority of checks can be conducted within a matter of seconds and will often involve the landlord (the person providing the rented accommodation) seeing no more than the documents that they will already wish to see in conducting due diligence, credit or tenant referencing checks. The checks are modelled on the right to work checks employers have performed for many years, and in the majority of cases will involve a face value examination of commonly-held documents without the need to contact the Home Office.

The right to rent checks are being implemented first in the local authority areas of Birmingham and Wolverhampton City Councils and Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Councils.

Codes of practice and guidance documents for landlords have been published on gov.uk

Landlords can verify a potential tenant has the right to live in the UK using an online checker. The checker also helps if they need to ask the Home Office to carry out an official right to rent check if the person has an outstanding immigration application or appeal. The Home Office has the power to grant a person permission to rent even though they do not have lawful immigration status where there are recognised barriers preventing them from leaving the UK.

There are simple to follow guidance tool-kits available on gov.uk: Landlords: immigration right to rent checks

To help landlords and homeowners comply with the scheme, a dedicated helpline has been set up: 0300 069 9799 where they can get more information. The helpline can also carry out checks on individuals who have an ongoing immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, or whose documents are with the Home Office.

I would be grateful if, you could give consideration to the part that your organisation may be able to play in raising awareness across your customer base. Please feel free also, in sharing this letter with other bodies or organisations that provide a service for this market.

This resource will help you to find the guidance and aids prepared for the market;
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/west-midlands-to-be-first-landlord-right-to-rent-check-area

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