ARLA: Get ready for the Immigration Act

In the pilot regions of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall and Dudley, lettings agents will have to check whether prospective occupants have the legal right to reside in the UK with ID checks for all adult occupiers.

The act aims to curb the free movement of illegal immigrants and clamp down on rogue landlords offering overcrowding and unlawful properties.

David Cox, managing director of Association of Residential Letting Agents, said: “It is imperative that all agents are aware of the changes that are coming in to force under this Act, not just those in the initial pilot regions; for those found in breach of the legislation it carries civil penalties up to £3,000 per head.

“The monitoring and assessment of the pilot period and how it plays out will prove a useful exercise for letting agents across the country.”

Lettings agents must make ID checks to establish the immigration status of all prospective occupiers before any residential tenancy agreements are granted, while records need to be kept for 12 months after the tenancy ends.

Cox added: “Establishing routine ID checks for all adult occupiers will endeavour to ensure both that tenants do not suffer discrimination and that your excuse against civil penalty is established in every case.

“We believe that education on this key legislative change is an essential and fundamental part of our role as the trade body of this industry.

“All of our members in the West Midlands have recently undergone training to ensure they are prepared and fully understand what the new rules mean in practice.

“However, while we see the act as a step in the right direction and endeavour to educate our members, more needs to be done to introduce stricter regulation in the property industry.

“This is needed to not only clamp down on rogue landlords and criminal organisations flouting the rules, but to also bring the industry together to share best practice.”