Implementation of ‘right to rent’ provisions announced

4 Sep 14

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? An implementation schedule for “right to rent” checks – the requirement that all private landlords check tenants’ immigration status – has been announced in Parliament.

What does the change mean? The “right to rent” checks will be piloted and then introduced in phases based on location beginning Dec. 1, 2014 in the Birmingham and West Midlands area.

  • Implementation timeframe: Dec. 1 in Birmingham and West Midlands and thereafter in the rest of the U.K.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas.
  • Who is affected: Landlords, relocation companies, foreign nationals.
  • Business impact: The provision will add a significant administrative burden to landowners and agents renting property, and costs are likely to be passed on to employers who provide corporate accommodations.
  • Next steps: UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is convening a consulting panel of landlords, rental agents, housing and homeless advocates and other stakeholders to monitor implementation prior to the national rollout.

Background: The Immigration Act 2014 introduced the requirement that private landlords conduct document checks to identify all potential tenants’ legal immigration status in the U.K. and therefore their “right to rent.” Landlords found to be noncompliant face fines of £80 to £3000. The “right to rent” checks are part of a raft of changes to make life in the U.K. harder for undocumented migrants. The requirement is controversial amongst migrants’ rights groups, and UKVI has provided very little detail, other than to reassure landlords and companies renting property that UKVI would pilot the scheme in a limited geographical area and seek feedback prior to the national rollout.

Yesterday, James Brokenshire, Minister of Security and Immigration, announced in the House of Commons that the initial rollout area is Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell. The Home Office has also published a “Code of Practice on Illegal Immigrants and Private Rented Accommodations,” confirming the civil penalties for landlords and their agents and introducing an online “right to rent” tool that should assist landlords in checking immigration status documents.

BAL Analysis: The “right to rent” check requirement will impact relocation companies, HR companies, landlords and rental agents. It will require significant time, effort and expense to understand the requirements, put in place compliance procedures and conduct initial and follow-up document checks to verify tenants’ immigration status. UKVI is actively seeking feedback on the “right to rent” tool. Please discuss this with BAL if you are operating in the Birmingham and West Midlands area – sharing and lobbying on corporate experiences at this stage could have a significant impact on the rollout of the scheme nationwide.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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