Landlords facing fines for ‘risky’ checks on tenants

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MAKING landlords responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants is a ‘risky and careless’ step by the government, a Portsmouth firm has said.

FCC Paragon, which provides numerous services to the lettings industry, including background checks on tenants, said diligent landlords are already checking as much as they are able. As part of its tenant referencing business, FCC says it has come across numerous fraudulent applications being made.

It also says often these have led to sub-letting, huge rent arrears, and damage being caused to the property.

Three years ago, the firm approached the government to offer a service to help out, but was rebuffed.

That was despite a successful trial between the firm and the UK Border Agency, which correctly identified some individuals who were in the country illegally.

The firm’s operations director Janie Glaston said: ‘We like to think we’re a forward thinking company and our experience in this field led us to recognise the issues and try to tackle it head on.’

The firm said its programme would have cost the government nothing to run, but was rejected as the new initiatives were already coming in.

Landlords will now face large fines if they do not correctly check the immigration status of their tenants.

Ms Gaston added: ‘This is just another regulatory burden for landlords and will not do anything to tackle immigration problems as professional landlords will already be taking such measures. Landlords have not been provided with a solution, they don’t know where to go to verify documents or how long it will take and most wouldn’t know if they were looking at a fraudulent document or not.

‘This is a risky and careless step for the government to have taken.’