Immigration Act Pilot Area Announced

Compliance Corner

Compliance Corner

The government has announced the pilot area and start date for the first stage of the Immigration Act.

The area, in which agents and landlords will have to check an immigrants ‘right to rent’, will be the West Midlands, with a start date of December 1. This area will include Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but will not apply in Solihull and Coventry.

The Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire, said: “We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants…

“The ‘right to rent’ checks are quick and simple, but will make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here.

“They will also act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out substandard, overcrowded and unsafe accommodation.”

In response the ARLA Managing Director, David Cox, stated that “it’s essential this is robustly tested and any issues corrected before additional responsibilities are placed upon landlords and letting agents across the country.”

The Immigration Act puts the onus on agents and landlords to vet the immigration status of tenants to ensure they are legally entitled to reside in the country. Failure to comply, and letting to someone who does not have the ‘right to rent’, will result in fines that could run up to £3,000.

Numerous industry bodies have voiced their opposition to the Act as they believe it is wrong for the government to ask landlords and agents to operate as an extension of the UK Border Agency.

The Immigration Act has had far from a smooth ride since it was given Royal consent. Originally it was to be rolled out nationally this October, but it has now been reduced to this pilot area. The government also issued guidance in the form of an Immigration Act Factsheet that created more questions than it answered.

As always, we will be keeping an eye on the situation to see if there are any further developments that come out of this pilot scheme.

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