The Fixer: new rules for landlords

Buy-to-let landlords must conduct extra checks on tenants.

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Dear Fixer,

I own two buy-to-let properties in Leeds, which I manage myself. One is currently let, the other is available for rent.

A friend, who is also a landlord, has told me I need to conduct extra ID checks on any potential tenants due to new immigration laws.

Why is this? And do I have to do these checks on everyone, even tenants with British nationality?

D Thornton, Leeds

Dear Mr Thornton,

Your friend is right. From the beginning of this month, landlords with property in England must carry out checks on all potential adult tenants to ensure they have the "right to rent" property in the UK.

The aim of the legislation is to tackle illegal migration, but the checks must be done whatever your potential tenant's nationality.

According to the new rules, checks must be made within 28 days prior to the tenancy start date and must include all people aged 18 and over who will be living in the property, whether or not they are named in the tenancy agreement.

Failing to comply could land you with a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant – or a five-year prison sentence.

To check a tenant's "right to rent", you must see original copies of qualifying documents such as UK passports and EEA/Swiss passports or identity cards. For a full list of qualifying documents, check out the Government's "right to rent" guide.

In the presence of the tenant, you must then check that the documents are genuine and belong to the person concerned, before making dated copies.

If a potential tenant only has the right to stay in the UK for a limited time, you must also make further checks to ensure they leave the property before their permission to stay runs out.

But beware: don't be tempted to select tenants based on their name or ethnicity to avoid problems under the "right to rent" regime.

Otherwise, you could face a race discrimination claim with consequences even more severe than those of failing to comply with the new rules.

The Fixer

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