The National Landlords Association (NLA) recommends that buy-to-let investors carry out thorough checks on their tenants’ backgrounds so that they can minimise the chances of any rent arrears and avoid renting their houses out to unreliable individuals.

And now new legislation is coming into force from December 1st that will require all West Midlands-based landlords to carry out right to rent checks before a tenancy is granted, or face serious fines if they fail to do so.

“The Immigration Act will place a legal responsibility on landlords to help prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented accommodation,” chairman of the NLA Carolyn Uphill remarked. “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 line for a hefty penalty.”

Make sure that you ask prospective tenants to hand over documentation that proves they have the legal right to reside in the UK. The forthcoming legislation only applies to new tenants, so don’t worry about asking your existing ones for information, although you will have to do so when tenancies are renewed.

Acceptable documents for verification include biometric immigration papers, valid passports or an immigration status paper that says the named person is able to stay in the country for a specified period of time.