From 1 February 2016, landlords have a legal responsibility to check that their tenants have the right to live in the UK. Fines for failing to do so can run into the thousands. Trials were held last year in the Midlands, which resulted in one landlord being fined almost £2,000 for failing to check the immigration status of someone living at his property.
But the scheme has attracted waves of complaints and discontent from landlords, lawyers and property experts nationwide. Most have been complaining that the new laws mean landlords are now responsible for doing work that should be the responsibility of the government.
Many have also argued that the new rules contradict anti-discrimination laws, which prevent landlords from excluding certain groups or minorities from living in their properties.
Anne-Marie Balfour, from law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, told The Telegraph: “Landlords need to tread a fine line between immigration compliance and avoiding race discrimination. Tenants who are rejected unfairly can sue landlords under the 2010 Equality Act. An award for 'injury to feelings’, for example, would be in the region of £6,600.
Another concern is that less credible or responsible landlords will either ignore the new legislation or use it to exploit a vulnerable group of people, potentially charging more in return for a place to live.
Added red tape, a culture of fear among landlords and the fact that only one landlord during the trial period was identified as breaking the law are additional reasons the scheme has received criticism.
What are your thoughts on the new tenant immigration checks? Do you need any help finding a tenant and have concerns over their status? Call Outlet. We offer advice and property management services to landlords across London. Click here for more information.