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The Truth About Immigration Checks

If the subject line of this email has caught your attention then you are probably wondering what the truth about Immigration Checks is. We, at Connect UK, are getting a little alarmed by some of the "hype" being talked about. So, let's get to the truth, the facts, what we know to be the case, and cover what might happen.

We are aware that there could be individuals or organisations out there who are starting to offer specific Immigration Advice even though they are not in a position to do so, as they are not registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner or the Law Society unless exempt from registration. We would advise Landlords not to take advice from anyone who is not permitted to provide such advice. You could find yourself breaking the law because of bad advice and the individual or organisation offering such advice could be committing a criminal offence if advising when unregistered unless exempt from registration.

So what do we know about the Immigration Check at this time?

  • We know the Immigration Act 2014 has been passed, but the provisions relating to residential tenancies have not been "switched on" yet.
  • So at this moment in time there is NO obligation to complete ANY immigration checks.
  • The government of the day needs to activate the Act - which has not yet been done.

The proposed roll out is for 1 or more areas of the country to go live with a pilot, possibly as early as October 2014. We are not sure if this will happen – but it has been suggested by the government. The checks may not come in to force at all, they might be piloted in 1 or more areas, or, they might go live across the whole UK. We simply do not know - all we do know is that a 6 month pilot been suggested.

If checks do become mandatory, our advice is that you will need to check ALL applicants, not just "some" or those you may have "concerns" over. Failure to make a check on all applicants could leave you open to claims of discrimination.

We anticipate that the Government will be offering a helpline to Landlords. We also understand they will issue a comprehensive guidance document showing examples of what needs to be checked and what to look for. We believe from what we know so far that if a Landlord has the time and the appetite, they will be able to complete the vast majority of checks themselves without taking third party advice.

So, what do we know about timescales? There is NO date set for the act to go live. Right now, no one knows what the date will be for it to go live. So as it stands now, there is no obligation to complete any Immigration Checks although all Landlords and Letting Agents, like everyone else, are already under a positive obligation not to facilitate a breach of the UK’s immigration laws if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that what they are doing is likely to lead to a contravention of those laws.

We will be providing the next bulletin the moment we have some meaningful updates regarding the legislation going live.

Article by Leathes Prior Solicitors in association with Rent4sure

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