Yes, the Immigration Act 2014 requires landlords and letting agents of residential premises to check the immigration status of proposed tenants to ensure they are allowed to live in the UK before letting a residential property to them. This includes landlords who sublet or who take in lodgers and it applies to new tenancies which started on or after 1 December 2014.
The landlord should ask to see a prospective tenant's passport or biometric residence permit and take a copy of the documentation as evidence that the checks have been carried out. The documentation should be retained for one year after the tenancy ends. Children under 18 will not need to be checked.
If a prospective tenant does not have the right to rent, the landlord could be fined up to £3,000. However, if your client has instructed an agent to carry out immigration status checks, the act provides for liability to pass to the agent for any contravention and resulting fine.
More information about how to carry out a right to rent check is available online, including a free online Home Office checking service to confirm whether someone has the right to rent. You can use a postcode to check if a property is covered by the new rules. A helpline (0300 069 9799) is also available.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.