UK house prices

Landlords in the West Midlands will b first in line to face a possible £3,000 penalty if they fail to carry out necessary checks to see if their prospective tenants can be identified as British citizens.

Landlords in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton will be the first to comply with new rules that will see homeowners having to check and vet potential tenants' identities and citizenship, in a bid to clamp down on illegal immigration.

"In most cases landlords will be able to carry out the checks themselves by asking to see the passport or permit and then photocopying (and keeping) it, without having to request a check on a person's right to be in the UK via the website," said the UK Home Office.

"In a limited number of cases, such as where tenants don't have their documents due to an ongoing Home Office application, landlords can request a check using the 'right to rent' tool on the website."

Under the Immigration Act 2014, prospective tenants will be forced to provide an official form of identification provided by the Home Office, a biometric residence permit or a passport to secure a rented home.

However, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has warned that the stricter rules could lead to a discrepancy in those finding a place to live, due to the onerous identity restrictions.

"As the lettings market is a very competitive arena, it is entirely conceivable that landlords could end up favouring 'low-risk' tenants or those whose legal right to reside in the UK is clear-cut," said Mary Latham, West Midlands representative for the NLA.

"Therefore NLA advises all landlords to look at the Home Office's guidance on unlawful discrimination as well as the Code of Practice, which includes a list of acceptable documents to use to verify a tenant's immigration status."