The Immigration Act 2014 prohibits landlords of residential properties from allowing individuals who do not have a ‘Right to Rent’ from occupying under a tenancy. It comes in to effect, in the first instance, in a number of pilot areas (from 1 December 2014), with widespread roll-out most likely to happen in 2015.
The legislation requires a landlord to ascertain the immigration status of any prospective tenant and other authorised occupiers, and if they are not a ‘relevant national’, i.e. a British Citizen or a national of an EEA State or a national of Switzerland, then a tenancy should not be granted. An individual does not have a Right to Rent if they need to but do not have permission ‘to enter or remain in the United Kingdom’, or the permission is ‘subject to a condition preventing them from occupying the premises’. This is an onerous obligation on the landlord but, in addition, if a tenant’s Right to Rent lapses during the tenancy then the Act may apply. Just to top it off, a breach of this part of the Act by a landlord could lead to a fine of up to £3000.
The Home Office has issued a statement following the enforcement of the Act which states that ‘The right to rent checks will only apply to new tenancy agreements. Existing tenancy agreements are unaffected and landlords will not be required to carry out retrospective checks. The requirements apply to all adults (aged 18 and over) living at the property.’ However, landlords should be aware that where an existing AST is extended by agreement, it is likely to be regarded as a new tenancy and caught by the legislation.