If you start renting out a property in England, then you are now legally obliged to check the immigration status of all tenants over the age of 18. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in a costly fine or even a prison sentence.
These checks are compulsory for every adult living in the property, even if they’re not named on the tenancy agreement. While checks aren’t required for children, landlords will still need to prove young people living in the property are under the age of 18. For this reason, it is prudent to keep a record of all occupiers’ birthdates to make sure you remain on the right side of the law.
Find out how many adults will be living in the property, as their main or only home. Ask to see original documents to prove they can live in the UK, check that these are genuine and make a copy, also remembering to record the date that the copy was made. You should keep the copies in a safe place for at least 12 months after the tenancy has ended.
For further information and a full list of identity documents that are acceptable, take a look at this guide published by the Government.
When you make a copy of the documents, you must:
• Make a copy that can’t be altered, by taking a photograph or high-quality photocopy
• Copy every page of the documentation
• Abide by data protection law
A time limit may be placed on a person’s permission to stay if, for example, they are on a student or work visa. In this circumstance, you must carry out a follow-up check to make sure your tenant still has the right to rent in the UK. If you find out that your tenant no longer has the right to rent, you must inform the Home Office.
Landlords must not discriminate against prospective tenants. It is against the law to only check people you think aren’t British citizens.
As one of the region’s leading letting agents, our experts can offer landlords advice and guidance on meeting all legal obligations when it comes to renting out property. If you would like to let out your property with us, or request a free valuation, call our team on 01257 547062.