Immigration Act 2014 - Pilot schemes for tenant identification obligations

In a previous article " Immigration Act 2014 imposes identification burden on Landlords", we reported upon the impact that the Immigration Act 2014 was to have upon Landlords, specifically that on a to-be-confirmed-date in October 2014, Landlords were to be subject to a duty to ensure that any new tenant is entitled to live in the UK.

The scheme has caused a great deal of concern amongst Landlords, many of whom are uneasy at the notion that they are to be quasi-immigration officers, working through a quagmire of bureaucracy and paperwork to establish the  immigration status of their tenants.  Immigration and tenants groups have expressed concerns that the scheme would lead to Landlords deciding to let only to what have been referred to as "obviously British" tenants. This has in turn led to fears of Landlords being accused of discrimination.

Due to these and other concerns being raised, rather than introduce the scheme nationwide in October 2014 as originally planned, the Immigration Act 2014 (Commencement No. 3, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Order 2014 will introduce certain parts of the Immigration Act 2014 from 1 December 2014 for parts of the UK. From 1 December 2014, the scheme is to be piloted in the West Midlands, specifically Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

The pilot will apply all tenancies, leases for less than 7 years and any lodging arrangements granted on or after 1 December 2014 in the pilot area. The scheme will not be retrospective, with any existing or renewed agreements which continues from before 1 December being unaffected. Landlords will be obliged to prove that a tenant has the 'right to rent' and necessary UK immigration status before agreeing a tenancy or allowing them to be a lodger. A failure to check a tenants' status may result in landlords facing a fine of up to £3,000.  

The pilot will be reviewed in Spring 2015 and, if successful, the Government hopes to phase in the scheme throughout the UK in mid-late 2015. Given the amendments to the scheme to date and the lingering doubts as to how the scheme will work, it would not be a surprise the timetable for UK implementation was put back until 2016 or even suspended pending further pilots.  Watch this space for further news.

Rollits' Property Dispute Resolution Team, headed by partner Ralph Gilbert. has considerable experience is dealing with all manner of issues arising in the course of both residential and commercial lettings. If you have any contentious property related queries, contact Ralph on 01482 323239 or ralph.gilbert@rollits.com.

Posted on: 14/11/2014

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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