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Illegal immigrant warning to landlords

Landlords are to face hefty fines if they cannot prove they have done everything they can to prevent the lease of a property to illegal immigrants, an expert has warned.

The Government has announced new legislation, the Immigration Act 2014, which will pilot in the West Midlands before rolling out to the rest of the UK.

Property specialist Will Garnett, solicitor with the Litigation team at Lancashire law firm, Napthens, warns that from December this year private landlords may face fines if they rent property to illegal immigrants, without first checking the rights of the prospective tenants to live in the UK.

The step has been taken to help the Home Office tackle illegal immigration. Landlords will need to take ‘reasonable steps’ before a tenancy starts, to find out who will be living in the accommodation, and make immigration checks of all the adults.

Will Garnett warns: “This is an important responsibility which currently does not exist for landlords.

“These checks will need to be complete before the person moves into the property and can include for British citizens, checking whether the prospective tenant has a valid British passport, driving licence or birth certificate.

“For EU members, passport, national ID card or evidence of receipt of UK benefits will be satisfactory; and for other countries tenants will be able to show a passport with a UK immigration stamp or a residence permit.

“There are a range of suitable documents that can be simply checked, landlords will not be able to blame the tenant if the rules are breached.

“Therefore it is important for landlords to know their responsibilities and make sure they keep proof that these checks have been carried out.

“These proposals are largely directed at Residential landlords; however the legislation is likely to catch Commercial landlords who let out mixed-use premises if they do not check the evidence of the tenant’s permission to be in the UK.”

“Lettings and estate agents must also be aware of the changes, as in many cases property owners appoint an agent to carry out property management and therefore the liability and potential fine would transfer to the agent. Anybody unsure of the rules should contact their legal adviser.”