The Immigration Act 2014 introduced provisions for all new tenancies in England from February 2016. The 'Right to Rent' scheme essentially makes it a duty for landlords to conduct immigration checks on adult occupiers of private rented properties. There are exempt properties under the scheme, such as NHS hospitals, care homes, social housing, non-private student accommodation, certain leases involving mobile homes and long leases. Unless exempt, the consequence of failing to carry out proper checks could result in liability to a civil penalty of up to £500 for a lodger in a private household and up to £3,000 for an occupier in private rental accommodation. The Home Office follows a prescribed framework when considering a landlord's liability to a civil penalty.
The increasing concern with the scheme is that the majority of landlords, specifically those in the buy-to-let division, still do not fully understand their obligations under the scheme. While the Home
Office has published a 'Code of Practice' detailing the acceptable documents as evidence of the 'right to rent', a Residential Landlords Association (RLA) survey revealed that 44% of landlords have expressed they would only accept documents that are familiar to them - which seems reasonable since they are not immigration experts.