A recent study undertaken by Online Letting Agents reveals that 8/10 landlords believe that the new immigration legislation, coming into force in October this year, puts landlords under too much pressure.
The Immigration Act has sparked controversy in the property market – some say landlords shouldn’t have to be ‘detectives’, and others worry it will lead to unfair discrimination.
Here at Arthur Online, we decided to help landlords by interviewing immigration experts, Medical Immigration Services LLP. The aim of the interview was to find out the facts about the new legislation, and what impact it will have upon landlords.
In October 2014, landlords will face a fine if they house people who are staying illegally in the UK in their properties. The fine will be £3000 per disqualified individual living in the property, something that could have a large impact upon landlords who manage HMO’s.
Landlords will therefore be required to incorporate new checks and validations into the overall tenant application process. They will need to ask tenants to produce evidence from a checklist of documents, enabling the landlord to decipher whether or not they are legally allowed to stay in the UK.
Responsibility ultimately rests with the landlord, unless they have handed over responsibility to a letting agent in writing. In such a scenario, the letting agent will become liable for the penalty if the appropriate checks are not conducted.
The checks must be made on a non-discriminatory basis. James Taylor, Director of Medical Immigration Services LLP, explains this; “In addition to the Immigration Act 2014 itself, landlords and letting agents will also need to be aware of the potential impact of Race Relations and Equalities legislation.”
To deny someone a residential tenancy agreement, or to conduct checks exclusively on the colour of the potential tenant’s skin or accent, would be unlawful discrimination. This has the potential to further expose landlords and letting agents to unwanted litigation.”
The purpose of the Immigration Act is to make the immigration system fairer to British citizens and legitimate migrants, whilst making it tougher on illegal immigrants. The UK Government wishes to limit the factors that can attract illegal immigrants to move to the UK, for example housing.
However, the housing that attracted them was far from luxury. Before the Act was passed, rogue landlords could target disqualified individuals who weren’t in a position to complain, forcing the tenants to pay for appalling living conditions. The new legislation, therefore, should also help to clamp down on poor landlord practice.
Therefore, the motives behind the Act are well justified, but the speculation surrounding the complexity of the checks remains. Taylor noted this, saying that “for somebody with no experience of Immigration law, the range of documents that could be presented, and the sometimes very subtle differences between immigration statuses, means that these checks would prove extremely complex.
“For example, there are 6 different types of British citizen and over 100 different immigration categories. Not all “British Citizens” have the same entitlements, and with over 100 different immigration categories, navigating these could be extraordinarily complex.”
The Home Office will be operating an enquiry service in case the landlord is unsure of how to check the documents. However, many other companies also provide this service, for example Medical Immigration Services LLP.
With landlords facing so much new legislation and regulation, being organised is the key to success. This is where Arthur can help. Our web-based property management software facilitates communication between landlords, property managers, letting agents, contractors and tenants.
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This is why the software is specifically designed to save you time and money, with its intelligent and fully integrated design. Take regulation like the Immigration Act in your stride using Arthur. With the recent launch of our native app for Android and Apple users, there hasn’t been a better time to get on board.
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Keep calm and carry Arthur.