As part of its project of tightening up on immigration the Government has introduced, under the Immigration Act 2014, a “right to rent” scheme, which has now come into force in England. The way that the scheme works is that private landlords must check the immigration status of all new prospective tenants, and if they do not have immigration status then it is illegal for the landlord to rent the property to them. Landlords who rent illegally can be fined up to £3,000 per illegal tenant.
But, as any immigration lawyer will tell you, it is often quite difficult to work out who has immigration status and who doesn’t. Immigration lawyers sometimes struggle with this, let alone landlords, most of whom probably do not have qualifications in immigration law and most of whom probably are not experts in detecting fake immigration documents. The Home Office has issued guidance to landlords to try and help them with the requirements of the new legislation, and has also created an internet program with which landlords can make enquiries about difficult cases. We can but hope that this service will provide accurate information.
This is part of a trend over the last few years where the Home Office gets private bodies to police immigration issues, under threat of dire punishment if they mess it up.