New measures to crack down on illegal immigration in the UK could mean that landlords will be expected to evict tenants that fail asylum applications or lose the right to live in the UK.
Landlords will be given the right to end tenancies without having to worry about obtaining a court order, but only when a tenant has lost the right to live in the UK. Landlords also face having to check a migrant’s status before they agree to a lease – those who don’t, or those who knowingly let properties to illegal immigrants, could face up to five years in prison.
So how can landlords protect themselves against these punishments and ensure that the tenants they’re letting to are in the country legally?
Tenant reference checks
Tenant checks are relatively inexpensive – you can check up on the potential tenant’s financial history and credit score, you can find them on their electoral roll and also find references from their previous landlords, if they have any.
Check your insurance policy
Check out your landlord insurance policy, and whether you’d be covered if you had to evict a tenant because of their status as an illegal immigrant. Many landlord insurance policies offer some financial protection if tenants do not pay their rent – this situation is similar. A landlord is legally obliged to evict the tenant but will lose out on profits through no fault of their own – so we may see more insurance policies including this sort of protection in the future.
Let through an agent
If your property is managed by an accredited letting agent who is a member of a professional body like RICs or ARLA, they’ll be able to carry out the checks on your behalf. If you’re not using a letting agent right now, and don’t want to risk making the checks personally, it might be worth looking into a property management service.
The government have vowed to provide help for landlords to carry out these checks, including a Code of Practice, a telephone helpline and a case-checking service to verify the validity of documents handed over by tenants.