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Residential landlords required to check immigration status of tenants

02 December 2015

From 1 February 2016, all private residential landlords will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK.

The law is already in force in trial areas in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.

The new law

The Immigration Act 2014 prohibits private landlords of residential properties from allowing certain people to occupy those properties based on the immigration status of the occupiers.

What do landlords have to do?

Landlords will have to check the status of prospective tenants, and other authorised occupiers, to ascertain whether those parties have the right to occupy the premises before granting a tenancy. Landlords must also make sure that someone’s right to occupy the premises does not lapse by conducting appropriate follow up checks. 

Landlords must keep copies of any evidence of the Tenant's entitlement to rent.

What are the consequences of failing to comply?

Breaching the prohibition could lead to a civil penalty of up to £3,000.  It is possible to transfer the responsibility for the checks to an agent, but this must be by express written agreement.

The details

A person is disqualified from occupying property under a residential tenancy agreement if they:

  • Are not a "relevant national", which is:
    • a British citizen;
    • a national of an European Economic Area State; or
    • a national of Switzerland.
  • Do not have a right of abode in the UK or have not been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK (or have overstayed a limited right to stay).

A person does not have a right to rent if they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it, or they have leave but it is subject to conditions that prevent them from occupying the premises. 

The scheme does not apply to children.

Further Guidance

There is a helpful "Right to Rent" tool on the Government website to assist in checking on any potential tenant here

There is further more detailed Government guidance on the new law available here.


If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Rachel Meredith or any member of the Wrigleys' Property team on 0113 244 6100.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors


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