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The legal requirement for landlords to check their tenants’ immigration status is set to be rolled out across the country. Landlords who fail to comply could face criminal penalties of up to five years in jail!
For an established letting agency like The Better Letter, this isn’t a big problem. Yes, it’s one more bit of legislation with which we must comply, but we have the process, experience and legal expertise at hand to make sure it becomes part of our regular routine – like checking references or filing eviction notices on problem tenants. While the landlord will still be legally responsible for these new checks, we make sure we fully represent our clients so they can relax and know it’s all covered.
But more than half of UK private landlords do not use a letting agency to manage their property. How many of these DIY Landlords will be prepared for the new Immigration Checks? How many will be aware of the eight different kinds of paperwork that can be presented to prove a prospective tenant’s ‘right to rent’ (or the further nine documents that can be acceptably substituted when provided in combination)?
In addition to knowing which documents count as acceptable proof of the check, will DIY landlords know which documents are still acceptable when expired, and which must be date-stamped no further than three months back? Which countries are not in the EU, but are in the EEA? What a genuine ‘Immigration Status’ document looks like?
It is the landlord’s personal and legal responsibility to make sure that they – or their appointed agent – do know all of these things. If they don’t, they will have committed a criminal offence with a potential for up to five years in jail.
There is a solution for independent landlords who don’t want a fully managed service, but aren’t confident about handling issues like drawing up legal tenancy agreements, credit and reference checks, evictions - and the upcoming immigration checks - on their own.
The Better Letter offers a full range of online services to help self-managing landlords save time, money and headaches. Should the Immigration Bill be passed into law, we will incorporate these checks into the service we offer.
So if you are a DIY landlord, make sure you do your research, or think about accessing our online services. Either way, I hope this article has helped you to be a Better Letter.
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