New laws forcing landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants came into effect last week – but evidence suggests seven in ten of them do not understand the changes.
Under laws which came into force on Monday (February 1) landlords who let property in England must carry out checks that their tenants have the “right to rent” property in the UK.
Anyone found letting a home to a tenant who does not have the right can be fined up to £3000.
A new Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament proposes jail sentences of up to five years for people who fail to carry out these checks.
Figures from the Residential Landlord Association showed 90% landlords have not received any information from the government about the new duties and that 72% do not understand them.
An earlier survey found half of landlords were not prepared for the changes and 20% believed they had until April 2017 to prepare for them.
Ajay Jagota is founder and Managing Director of KIS, and creator of d_lighted, a rent-free insurance backed deposit-free renting solution which slashes the costs of tenants finding homes and landlords finding tenants.
He said: “There is no question whatsoever that this is a huge new burden on landlords, who are effectively being asked to act as an outsourced border force.
“It’s not going to be easy, even when dealing with British nationals. Some people don’t have passports – almost one in five people in fact. Some don’t have driving licenses either. Others move house in a hurry and have to leave behind important paperwork.
“It’s startling how unprepared some landlords are for changes which could in future land them in jail.
“These aren’t the only laws you need to be aware of if your renting out a property – you’ve also got to remember everything from carbon monoxide to the safety of scatter cushions and ignorance is no excuse. At KIS we insist on regular inspections of properties we manage to ensure that no legislation is being disobeyed, even accidently.
“It’s noticeable that out of all the people to have been fined for the offences during the pilot programme in the Midlands, all were individual landlords and none where professional letting agents. It’s time like this that skilled support really shows it’s value.”
KIS are famous for being the first letting agents in the UK to abolish deposits, replacing them with a one-of-a-kind landlord insurance policy offering guaranteed rent, deposit replacement, legal assistance and round the clock third party emergency home repairs.
Named Letting Agent of the Year in 2013, the company expanded into sales the following year.