Last Friday we wrote a post discussing how under the government’s new Immigration Bill landlords will soon be expected to vet all their potential tenants in order to make sure that they are in the country legally. So far there has been a massive amount of criticism from private landlords over these new plans, especially as so many are concerned that vetting all their new tenants will be expensive, time consuming, and confusing.
Most private landlords already run a background check on new tenants as well as ask for references; however under the new bill this will no longer be enough. In fact, if a private landlord or letting agent fails to vet their tenants properly from now on they could face a fine of thousands of pounds or even legal action. Paul Walshe, head of the online legal service Property Reclaim has even warned that millions of private landlords could be affected, and went on to say: “Many landlords already have stringent checks in place but few will be conducting checks to see if a tenant can legally live in the UK.”
“The rules have yet to be put into law and we don’t know if checks will be retrospective but we do know that it will add to the already heavy administrative and legislative burden that private landlords already face and we advise them to start preparing now. Currently a tenant may be living illegally but paying rent. But if tenants are identified as illegal, landlords should not assume that they will continue to pay rent, safe in the knowledge that they might well be deported.” It has also been noted that when the government introduced similar rules for companies in 2002, the UK Boarder Agency issued seven thousand notifications of liability which led to around £65 million in fines.
Understandably, landlords that rely on their properties as a form of income are extremely concerned over these new rules, and some are even arguing that it is unfair to place the onus on landlords when it comes to finding illegal immigrants in the UK. Landlords who are apprehensive about the new legislation should contact their landlord insurance provider as soon as possible and ask them whether they need to perform extra checks on their current tenants, and how they can protect themselves and their businesses in the future.