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What you need to know about the immigration act 2016 (2022 changes)

8th September 2022

Are you aware of the changes that were made to the Immigration Act 2016 that just came into force in April 2022? The laws surrounding the private rented sector are changing all the time. As a landlord, it can be difficult to keep up with the many hundreds of different laws. However, you understand that there can be serious consequences if you fail to do so. Lettings law is serious. Here at Concentric Sales and Lettings, our goal is to help you by keeping you up to date with all the changes. We’re here to give you the knowledge and practical tips you need to always remain compliant.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the Immigration Act and the 2022 changes.


What is the Immigration Act of 2016?

The Immigration Act is a piece of legislation that applies to landlords and letting agents and came into force in England on February 1, 2016. The goal of the law is to ensure that properties are not rented to tenants or occupiers who do not possess a right to rent in the UK. Specifically, the legislation states that a landlord and/or a letting agent must be able to prove any occupier’s right to reside within the property throughout the tenancy. This means that landlords must check that any tenant or occupier within the property has the right to rent in the UK before the tenancy starts. This law applies to every adult who is 18 or more years old and who is living within the property, whether they are named on the tenancy or not. 

How to verify the right to rent

The most important part of the Immigration Act is the requirement that you verify your tenant’s right to rent in the UK. You mustn't discriminate when checking the occupant’s right to rent. Ask each of your tenants, regardless of their backgrounds, to provide the same evidence – namely, that they have the right to reside on the property. The easiest way to prove the right to reside in the UK is by presenting a passport. If it is a UK passport, you have all the evidence you need to prove that the tenant has the right to rent for the duration of the tenancy. If your tenant is from the EU, the process is a little different. In this case, their right to rent can be verified through the government website online. To do this, all you need to do is ask for a share code from the tenant or occupier. Using this code, along with their full name and date of birth, you can conduct an online rent check. Here is where you can do that. Finally, if your occupier is from outside the EU, other documentation will be required to verify their right to rent. Often, tenants from outside the EU prove their right to rent by showing a passport with a supporting Visa that shows the data the tenant or the occupier entered the UK and the expiry date of their visa. For any tenant or occupier that has a limited time to remain, you are required by law to conduct a follow-up check after completing the original right-to-rent check. The follow-up will need to be carried out either upon the date that the visa expires or 12 months after you carried out the initial check, whichever comes last. What this means is that you could, in theory, legally move a tenant into a property today, when their visa expires tomorrow. This wouldn’t be a violation of the law, but it might not make sense for you as a landlord. Therefore, you need to consider all the facts about a tenant’s right to rent before starting the tenancy. Some tenants may not be able to fulfil the fixed term of their tenancy. 

Landlords must keep documentation and evidence that the right-to-rent checks were carried out at the start of the tenancy. Also, landlords should keep records of any follow-up checks that were conducted while the tenant or occupier was living on the property. Finally, the right-to-rent requirements apply to all occupiers as well, so we recommend conducting further checks to ensure that no unauthorised occupants are living on the property.

Two big changes in 2022

Originally, the Immigration Act required these right-to-rent checks to be held face-to-face. However, due to recent events, for the past two years, we have been able to conduct right-to-rent checks via video call. The first big change to the act is that this amendment has been extended to the 30th of September 2022. The second big change is the alterations that have been made regarding biometric residence permits. Biometric residence permits are documentation that we have now used for many years for any tenant or occupier that has a set amount of time to reside. Based on the 2022 changes, these documents are no longer sufficient to demonstrate a right to rent in the UK. Tenants or occupiers that rely on these permits will also need to provide a share code just like EU nationals so that you, as the landlord, can verify their right to rent online. 

Stay compliant, stay safe

Although landlords are not immigration officers, this law is an essential piece of property law that you must comply with. This regulation carries with it fines of up to £3,000 per occupier and, potentially, a prison sentence. However, by ensuring that you are checking both your tenants and occupiers for their right to rent in the UK, you can remain safe and compliant. The Immigration Act of 2016 is just one piece of legislation in our private rented sector that you as a landlord should be aware of. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to join our FREE quarterly webinar hosted by our very own Dawn Bennett, where you can get more detailed information about the laws and regulations that you need to know.


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