Recent changes have been announced to the Immigration Act 2016 (which came into effect from 1 December 2016), which have “upgraded” the failure to meet Right to Rent requirements to a criminal offence including a jail term of up to five years.
Right to Rent was a scheme introduced across England on 1 February 2016. The scheme requires landlords or their letting agents to make adequate immigration checks before letting a property. If they do not, they can be liable for a fine of up to £3,000.
These checks include:
This crackdown stems from the fact that illegal immigrants do not have the right to rent a home in the UK. Unfortunately, some landlords continue to exploit this market for their own gain.
The new rules created four new criminal offences that extend the potential punishments to include a fine or up to five years in prison (or both). Some landlords could even receive a fine, a custodial sentence and further sanctions for persistent breaches or failure to take steps to remove illegal immigrants from a property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Further amendments to the laws include a power for the landlord to terminate a residential tenancy where the Secretary of State has served a notice stating that the occupiers are disqualified from occupying the premises as a result of their immigration status.
There has also been an amendment to the mandatory grounds for possession of residential properties set out in the Housing Act 1988 to include a new ground relating to tenants or adult occupiers of property whose immigration status disqualifies them from occupying that property.
All landlords are advised to ensure they are complying with the requirements of the Immigration Act, including the Right to Rent checks.
Aditi Sawjani, Associate, Fladgate LLP (firstname.lastname@example.org)