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The National Landlords Association is reminding UK landlords about the importance of conducting tenant checks shortly before new legislation will require them to check the immigration status of every new tenant. As of the 01 December 2014 landlords in the West Midlands where a pilot scheme is being introduced, will be responsible for carrying out ‘right to rent’ checks in order to identify if a potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK, before they grant a tenancy. If the checks are not carried out landlords could face a fine of up to £3,000. The new rules, set out in the Immigration Act, will be rolled out around the rest of the UK in 2015. The NLA recommends that landlords always check potential tenants thoroughly in order to reduce the risk of letting to unreliable tenants and minimise the risk of rent arrears. Services such as the NLA Tenant Check give landlords the ability to vet their tenants and be confident it has been done to a professional standard. ‘In some areas as early as this December, the Immigration Act will place a legal responsibility on landlords to help prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented accommodation,’ said NLA chairman Carolyn Uphill. ‘It has always been best practice to conduct a thorough check on prospective tenants, but if landlords don’t do their due diligence on tenants they could be in line for a hefty penalty,’ she explained. ‘The NLA exists to support all landlords to make a success of their lettings business and to ensure they comply with the law,’ she pointed out and added that to see how the NLA can help with this forthcoming requirement landlords can go online to the NLA Tenant Check website. Meanwhile, Harrison Murray Lettings (HM Lettings), the lettings arm of the Nottingham Building Society, said it aims to lead the way in ensuring all potential tenants are eligible to live in the UK. ‘We want to safeguard and support the rights of both landlord and tenant whilst ensuring we are operating in line with the latest legislation,’ said Group Lettings controller Paul Offley. The Home Office has not yet issued specific instructions but it is likely that British passport holders will only need to show their current passport and those without passports will have to produce alternative documents including birth or adoption certificate in combination with a National Insurance number, driving licence, naturalisation certificate or a right of abode certificate. Citizens of the 27 member countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are expected to show as evidence a passport and national identity card or evidence of receipt of UK benefits. People from other countries should have a Biometric Residence Permit which clearly states the time limit on their stay but foreign visitors staying for less than six months cannot obtain a Biometric Residence Permit and would need to show a passport containing a UK immigration stamp with a time limit that is still valid. Continue reading →
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