If you are a residential landlord you will be obliged to check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent your property from you for any new tenancy granted from 1st February 2016.. This will be done by inspecting original documents which entitle the tenant to live in the UK. Dispute Resolution Associate Carl Geary emphasises, "Failure to carry out these checks may result in a hefty fine for the landlord. The onus for this check is on the landlord but retained agents may carry out the inspection."
The Home Office have issued comprehensive guidance for landlords which can be accessed on-line and contains some of the following information:
- Check all adults that will live at the property whether or not they are named on the tenancy agreement
- Make sure that the documents are genuine and have not been tampered with. If you suspect that the documents are false do not let to that person
- Keep a copy of the documents and record the date of the check and the date of any follow-up checks (if there is a time limit on the prospective tenant’s papers you will need to make a follow-up inspection)
- If any follow-up checks show that a person no longer has the right to reside in the UK you should make a report to the Home Office. You do not need to evict the tenant. There is an on-line form to report your findings to the Home Office.
If you have not made the necessary checks and an illegal immigrant is found to be living in your property you may be liable for a civil penalty. This may be up to £3,000 depending on whether it is your first offence and whether you are letting to a lodger in a private household or whether you are letting to tenants in rented accommodation.
Our Dispute Resolution Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.