What does the Immigration Act 2014 Landlord Checking Service mean to sales agents?

Thursday 16 April 2015

As legislative changes grind to a halt for Election 'purdah', it’s a good time to reflect on the impact that Immigration Act 2014 is having on the property industry and what the implications are for sales agents.

The pilot scheme requires landlords and letting agents to check ID to establish the Right to Rent status of all prospective adult occupiers for tenancies in properties in Birmingham, Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall starting after 1st December 2014. Where the Immigration Enforcement Agency investigate and issue civil penalty notices, fines for the party who has authorised the occupancy can be up to £3,000 per illegal occupier.

For properties acquired with occupying tenants in a tenancy agreement which started before the pilot period, technically no checks are needed as the tenancy is outside the scope of the scheme, however this is an additional reason to have and retain evidence of any existing tenancy agreement.

Where a property within the scope of the scheme is sold with an existing tenancy the advice from the Home Office is to obtain evidence of ID checks having been carried out prior to the start of the tenancy along with evidence of which party was responsible for agreeing the tenancy. In the absence of this it is advisable to ensure that checks are made. 

It is possible that under Consumer Protection Regulations a complaint could be made against an estate agent who did not alert buyers to the fact that tenants were subject to the scheme.

The scheme, which was set up to prevent illegal immigrants from being able to live and move around freely is subject to ongoing evaluation and decisions made by the incoming government. Despite speculation it remains to be seen whether the scheme will remain in place and whether further roll out would be phased or national.

ARLA's most recent set of  FAQ’s with answers supplied by the Home Office team are available here. If you have feedback on the impact of the scheme please contact Rachel Hartley on 01926 417358 or email rachelhartley@naea.co.uk