The Immigration Act: What It Means For You

Legal 1 November 2014

There’s a new law in town and it’s one that you’ll want to take heed of. The immigration act is in action to ensure that any landlord caught housing a tenant illegally in the country can be charged up to £3,000. The bill was cemented as an act in May 2014 and as such, landlords are expected to adhere rigidly to its standards and requirements or face the consequences.

Residential landlords are therefore required to carry out thorough checks in order to examine the immigration status of all applying tenants in order to accurately assess whether or not those individuals are legally or illegally living in the country. Wilfully ignoring the status of a resident illegally in the country may subject the landlord to a hefty fine as will refusing to carry out the assessment and assuming a tenant is legally living in the UK.

The act itself enables landlords to be the subject of piloted checks in a geographical area large enough to ensure that accurate findings can be evaluated. The act is expected to begin on the 1st December 2014 initiated as a pilot in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. The Home Office has since published a Code of Practice that landlords can refer to in order to ensure that prospective tenants adhere to the legalities. The Code of Practice helps landlords assess whether a tenant has a ‘right to rent’ and also provides landlords with a helpline which they can contact if they are unsure of how to proceed whilst they familiarise themselves with the process.

After six months of the pilot, the Government will then evaluate whether the pilot is working successfully and assess whether any discrimination is present in the undertaking of the act. Certain groups are not included within the act’s reach. For example, students, women seeking refuge in shelters and students nominated by their education provider to occupy premises are all exempt.

It is necessary for landlords to familiarise themselves with the legalities of the act to ensure that they adhere to its standards and collude with the law. Although the immigration act has been around for some time in one form or another, it is essential to take note of the recent changes and the ways in which these may influence landlords directly. Student landlords and those providing housing for women seeking refuge and other such exemptions should still acquaint themselves with the act to ensure that they are not inadvertently breaking the statutes of the act. A thorough read through of the act can be located online.