The National Landlords Association says next month is the next key date for the roll-out of the government’s controversial immigration checks to be conducted by landlords or their agents.
The NLA has now met with Immigration Minister James Brokenshire and says it now understands that the scale, spped and scope of the national implementation of this policy - called Right To Rent - will be determined once the results of the pilot project have been assessed. This will take place next month.
The pilot project has been taking place in parts of the West Midlands for the past six months, as set out in the Immigration Act 2014. This obliges agents and landlords in the West Midlands to carry out document checks and keep records to identify if a potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK.
Where an agent has accepted responsibility for compliance with the new rules, the agent will be the liable party in place of the landlord.In most cases this involves checking the tenant's passport or biometric residents permit; appropriate records of this need to be kept for up to 12 months after the tenancy ends.
Agents or landlords can request a check using an online form, which provides answers within two working days.
The new rules apply to individuals who take in lodgers and also apply to tenants who sub-let properties. Failure to abide by the regulations will result in fines up to £3,000.
The NLA says that, according to the minister, any roll-out of the scheme may be phased, area by area, and that it may not apply throughout the UK.
According to the association the West Midlands pilot has so far generated 911 calls to the Home Office, 114 checking requests for checks in cases where tenants were unable to verify their right to rent, 36,000 visits to the guidance webpages and 75 referrals.
To scale the required services up to meet national need will require significant investment on the part of local and national government.
The NLA says it is helping the Home Office draft new guidance to support agents and landlords who find themselves faced with tenants not permitted to rent in the UK.