I am grateful to Immigration and Eligibility expert Sue Lukes who has kindly written this post explaining the new immigration rules to us.
In September the government finally announced how it is to pilot the proposals in the 2014 Immigration Act that will require some landlords to check the immigration status of some people who occupy their property.
Cue sighs of relief from anyone who has no homes to let in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton which will be the pilot areas from December 1st 2014.
The pilot will run for six months, a report will be considered and then rollout elsewhere will be considered.
So nothing will happen elsewhere until late 2015 at the earliest (and there is an election in between which offers new ministers the chance to bury the whole thing quietly if they wish).
Which lettings will be affected in these areas?
There are a lot of exemptions, but the new rules will affect all new tenancies, licences, sub-lets, lodging arrangements and leases of under 7 years in the five areas.
Renewals of existing agreements are not affected.
A lot of the material produced by the government refers to tenancies, but in fact all new residential arrangements where rent or an occupation charge is paid are affected unless exempt.
Lettings which are not residential, for example holiday accommodation, are not covered: the Home Office guidance suggests that any rentals for three months or more would not be considered holiday accommodation.
Which lettings are exempt?
Housing provided by local authorities through homelessness or allocations procedures.
In the Act this is unhelpfully called “social housing” but actually any new lettings by housing associations or registered providers in the area are covered, unless they are made on nomination or referral by a local authority or as a transfer of an existing social tenant.
So if a council accepts a family as homeless and refers them to private rented accommodation as temporary or permanent housing then that letting is exempt. But if a council advises a family to apply direct to a landlord (to avoid the homelessness procedures) then that letting will not be exempt.
As defined by the Care Standards Act 2000 in England and equivalent legislation in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
Hospitals, hospices and other healthcare provision
These are all defined in a schedule to the Act and include any accommodation provided by some NHS bodies because of duties they have towards the prospective occupants. So this might cover hostels for people recovering from illness, but it would not cover nurses’ accommodation.
Local authority provision for the homeless
(Other than those to whom the authority has a duty which is already covered above): this presumably may include some rough sleeper projects
Hostels and refuges
A hostel is defined as
- a place offering non self-contained accommodation and board (or provision for food preparation) that is run by a registered housing association,
- a charity or a voluntary organisation, or
- is run on a not for profit basis and funded at least partly by a government department or agency or local authority.
Examples include bail hostels, night shelters or similar. A refuge does not have to be non self-contained, should be run on the same basis as a hostel, and be for people fleeing violence or abuse.
Home Office accommodation for migrants.
The Home Office provides accommodation for people claiming asylum and certain other migrants, via contracted suppliers
As defined by Mobile Homes Act 1983
Provided by an employer to an employee or trainee
Where this is in
- a hall of residence,
- a home provided via a nomination by an educational institution or
- in a building used mainly for student accommodation and managed by an educational institution or similar or a charity
Which occupants are covered?
The short answer is all adults, including
- Those liable to pay rent or occupation charges
- Anyone else authorised to live in the accommodation by the agreement
- Anyone else living in the accommodation even if not named in the agreement if the agreement allows it. So this would cover, for example, a partner or friend who moved in after the agreement, unless the landlord can prove that “reasonable enquiries” were made about who would be living in the home before the person moved in and so s/he did not know that they were there. “House guests” are covered if it is their current home.
To be continued next week when we will be looking at how the scheme will work.
Sue will be speaking about these issues at the Landlord Law Conference on April 14 at Cambridge.
She also provides training for organisations (such as local authority officers) via our training company Easy Law Training – click here to find out more.