From yesterday private landlords across England are now required to check that all their new tenants have the right to be in the UK. Introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014, it is intended to build a more effective immigration system, as well as making it easier for landlords to evict illegal tenants. Even if a landlord is sub-letting or taking in lodgers, the landlord must ensure they check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies.

With penalties up to £3,000 per tenant, landlords are not surprisingly keen to ensure they are adhering to the legislation. However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has stated that 7 out of 10 landlords don’t understand their obligations and 44% will only accept documents that are familiar to them such as passports. The RLA has warned that this could cause difficulties for the £12 million UK citizens who don’t have a passport.

To take the hassle away, please find below some key points to ensure compliance and a link to a handy guide for all the different documents accepted as well as tips on verifying the authenticity of each document. Bare in mind that if the landlord has made a check and kept a copy, they will have a statutory excuse against a penalty for letting to an illegal migrant.

1. Ask the tenant for an original acceptable document proving that they are allowed to live in the UK. This includes:
a. Passports
b. Identity cards
c. Letters from UK Government Department or benefits paperwork
d. Visas
2. Verify that the document is valid. This guide LINK helps to spot any issues.
3. Take a copy of the document and note the date you’ve taken the check
4. Ensure that any time stamped documentation such as a visa are re-verified before the time expires.

New technologies are making verifying identity documents quicker and more cost effective. We’re working with many clients helping to innovate their identity processes, contact us if you would like more information.