Private landlords will soon be required to vet their tenants under new immigration laws announced in the Queen’s Speech. They will be legally responsible for checking the immigration status of all of their potential tenants. Fines to be introduced are likely to run into thousands of pounds for failure to ensure vetting. The Government has already started to take heavy criticism for changes.
The Residential Landlords Association stated that whilst immigration rules need to be enforced, the reality is that all tenants living in the UK will see their rents rise as letting agents increase fees to cover the costs of the further checks on tenants and to cover the greater risks that the new laws will bring.
Various sectors of the lettings industry have expressed concern that the laws will encourage potential discrimination and that landlords will refuse to let to people of different nationality for fear of the heavy penalties.
Westpine Property Lettings & Management believe that the government should ultimately take responsibility for immigration checks and border control and improve any failings in this process. A landlord receiving a fine for having an illegal immigrant as tenant could also be argued as governmental failing for allowing said person to pass through into the country without sufficient checks in the first instance.
However at Westpine, we believe the proposed changes will have little impact to landlords who rent through a reputable letting agent. Westpine carry out thorough identity checks for tenants under our Full Management, Rent Collection and Let only packages. Copies of passports, and if necessary, work permits and resident visas are taken for proof of legality. Our thorough identity checks take away the concern and ensure that our landlords can continue to rent to any party without fear of failing the law. The concern should be for landlords who do not use a responsible letting agent or for private landlords who refuse to carry out the vetting themselves.
Westpine disagree that the fees should rise for landlords and tenants as a result of the new laws. The checks are already included within our fees and any good-standing letting agcncy should already be carrying out the checks as part of their process and commitment to their current landlords. Should letting agents be increasing fees to cover the vetting, this could be seen as an indication of their earlier failings to carry out sufficient identity checks, or a simple desire to exploit and make unfair charges.
A list of regulated letting agents can be found at www.arla.co.uk and we would recommend any landlord who does have any concern over the new vetting laws to instruct an ARLA registered agent and ensure that the new laws are adhered to.
Westpine Property Lettings is a Letting Agent Bolton who specialist solely in lettings and property management. We can be contacted on 01204 694121.