Many landlords may have missed the reference in the recent Queen’s Speech to the proposal to make it a legal requirement for landlords to undertake checks on their tenants’ right to be in the country.

The idea is that private landlords will have to carry out checks on new tenants’ passports and visas. If the landlord fails to do so he or she will face a criminal prosecution. It is not clear what happens if the tenant produced a convincing forgery. Some landlords and managing agents will take the view that this will not represent much more work than carrying out the standard checks on the tenant’s creditworthiness. On the other hand some will no doubt complain about having to act as “unpaid immigration officers”. We should be interested to hear some feedback from landlord insurance clients. Are you happy to take on this new responsibility?

The government is clearly eager to do something to stop rogue landlords cashing in by renting out homes to illegal migrants. However, Eric Pickles the Communities Secretary said that in making these changes the government will avoid burdening the private rented sector with excessive red tape. There has recently been an announcement that the new rules will only apply to landlords in some “problem areas” of the country. It is not yet clear which areas will be included but The Telegraph ( Monday 27th May 2013) suggested that some boroughs in west London are likely to be targeted.

There is no doubt that a good agent can make life much easier for a landlord in many ways. Dealing efficiently with the pre-letting paperwork is just one of these and the new rules may persuade some landlords that it would be better to pay an agent than manage the property themselves. One of the most important things to do is to keep copies of all the documents involved. There is no point in carrying out all the proper checks unless you keep copies to prove that you have done so.

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