The National Landlords Association has warned landlords and buy to let investors about the need to remember forthcoming legislation changes.
From the start of December, landlords in the West Midlands will need to check the immigration status of their tenants as part of the Immigration Act.
The pilot scheme means they must carry out ‘right to rent’ checks to ensure potential tenants are entitled to live in the UK, before tenancies are agreed.
The rules will become widespread across the UK in 2015 and landlords failing to carry out checks could face fines of up to £3,000.
It means landlords and investors will need to ensure the necessary checks are made or they could face losing a considerable portion of their returns.
The NLA has recommended that landlords always check tenants thoroughly in order to minimise the risk of letting to unreliable tenants.
“In some areas as early as this December, the Immigration Act will place a legal responsibility on landlords to help prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented accommodation,” explained NLA chairman Carolyn Uphill.
“It has always been best practice to conduct a thorough check on prospective tenants, but if landlords don’t do their due diligence on tenants they could be in for a hefty penalty.”
She added that the NLA works to ensure that those letting remain within the law and that assistance is available for any landlords who are unsure of the law changes.
No specific instructions are yet to be issued by the Home Office relating to the new rulings, but British passport holders should only need their current document.
Those without a British passport would require alternative documents such as a birth or adoption certificate alongside their National Insurance number, driving licence or a right to abode certificate.
People from within the EU are set to require a passport and national identity card, while those from beyond this area will require a Biometric Residence Permit which clearly states a length of stay.
With the changes still several months away, it provides landlords and investors with time to check their understanding of the relevant rules. This is in order to ensure they do not face penalties in the future.