In the meantime, it’s suggested landlords and tenants take a look at the right to work check (www.gov.uk/legal-right-to-work-in-the-uk), which is similar to the resource being introduced for landlords. The Government says the employers’ resource has “attracted praise as being user friendly, quick, and easy to use”.
Landlords and lettings agents who fail to carry out the checks will be given a civil penalty up to a maximum of £3,000. Thankfully this means it is not a criminal conviction, but there is no explanation as yet as to who imposes the penalty or assesses its scale.
Checks will be “simple and straightforward” to complete. Landlords will need to obtain and copy documents demonstrating an individual’s right to rent in the UK, such as a passport or biometric residence permit. In most cases there will be no need for landlords to contact the Home Office but to be safe the credentials of all tenants, even those apparently “British” will need to be checked, if only in the interests of racial equality.
The case-checking service will be used for status verification where the prospective tenant has an outstanding immigration application with the Home Office or the Home Office has their documents. This service will provide a clear yes/no response within two working days. If a landlord has not had an answer from the Home Office within two working days, they can go ahead and rent without risk of incurring a penalty.
Landlords will only have to conduct checks on new, and not existing, tenants from the implementation date.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the guidance from the Home Office is the note at the end: “August 2014 – All information in this factsheet was correct at the time of publishing but is subject to change.” So even though we have guidance, we have no definite idea of what is to come!
However, rest assured we are watching developments closely and I will update you immediately there is confirmation, when we also put in place appropriate internal procedures.
The Home Office factsheet can be found here.