There is much discussion about the problems of immigration into the UK, legal and otherwise. I believe that responsibility for immigration control has recently passed to the Home Office – but this is Wednesday, so who knows? As we know, while Britain remains part of the EU there is next to nothing that can be done to tackle the huge numbers of legal immigrants from the EU. However, despite appearances, Britain does have the right to exclude illegal immigrants. The question is HOW?
Illegal Immigrants and private rented accommodation
Generally speaking, most illegal immigrants end up in private rented accommodation, and will often go to landlords who are renting directly rather than via an agent. This of course is no reason to run to an agent as they can easily cost a landlord around £1000 a year just for a let only service.
This new scheme is being rolled out gradually across the country, starting already (October 2014) in the Birmingham area – eventually, the whole of the country will be covered probably by the end of 2015.
Landlords – The New Unpaid Immigration Officers
All residential landlords will become legally responsible for checking that prospective tenants have the right to rent in the UK. Fines of up to £3000.00 will be available to the courts for transgressors. The right to rent extends automatically to all residents of the UK, Switzerland and the EU. Landlords will have to typically examine prospective tenants’ passports to confirm that the tenants do indeed originate from where they say they originate. Unbelievably they will be required to ‘check in the presence of the holder (in person or via live video link) that documents appear genuine, that the person presenting them is the prospective occupier, the rightful holder and allowed to occupy the property.’ ‘Via a live video link’! – you couldn’t make it up. Landlords will have to verify that relevant expiry dates have not passed etc etc…
Generally, passports are the documents of most importance but other documents can be acceptable. Other documents such as birth certificates, adoption certificates, current Home Office immigration certificates – the list goes on and I have provided a link to the definitive government document as a pdf download here.
Landlords will have to keep safely copies of all relevant identity checking documents. As yet the government haven’t stated whether or not landlords will be issued with appropriate border guard uniforms.
Landlord Rent Guarantee Insurance and Tenant Referencing
In fact, wherever your tenant originates, it’s a great idea to take out Landlord Rent Guarantee Insurance, which pays out in the event that your tenant doesn’t and helps you evict them into the bargain. The thing is that this insurance almost always requires strict tenant referencing as a mandatory requirement, and this includes careful passport and identity checking. So, you can do the UK Border Agency’s work for it while helping to safeguard your rent! Landlords and Letting offers this insurance, from only £53.00 for 6 months cover – check it out here.
So there we have it – yet another pile of red tape for landlords to deal with. Admittedly, there are rogue landlords out there who rent sheds in their squalid back gardens etc but the majority of residential landlords are law abiding and just want to provide a good service for a decent rental return. However, because the government and its useless Border Agency with its even more useless computer systems are so inept they are having to pass on some of the responsibility for policing Britain’s borders to ordinary landlords. Good luck!