A new immigration check of prospective tenants in the UK is being trialled in the West Midlands, and if successful will be rolled out across the rest of Britain.
From 1st December, landlords under the pilot scheme will be required to check the legal immigration status of potential new tenants, before renting out property. This is to ensure that tenants are legally in the UK.
If landlords fail to undertake these checks then they could end up with a fine of up to £3000 fine, as laid out in new changes to the Immigration Act.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) have suggested that these checks should be carried out anyway, regardless of this new pilot scheme.
Carolyn Uphill, NLA Chairman said 'It has always been best practice to conduct a thorough check on prospective tenants, but if landlords don't do their due diligence on tenants they could be in line for a hefty penalty.'
There currently already exists a service where landlords can screen potential new tenants – the NLA Tenant Check offers this service, which helps landlords check that their tenants are reliable and are legally entitled to reside in the UK. This should help to minimise the risk of rent arrears for landlords.
'The NLA exists to support all landlords to make a success of their lettings business and to ensure they comply with the law,' said Uphill
It is not yet clear how these checks will be carried out, however it is thought that UK or EU citizens will need only to show their passport or national identity card in order to prove their right to live in the UK.
Visitors from outside the EU should have a Biometric Residence Permit if they are in the UK for more than six months; or for visitors a valid visitor visa.
If the pilot scheme is successful, it will be rolled out to the rest of the UK next year.