New prison threat for landlords who let to illegal immigrants

Senior Associate Solicitor Daniela Catuara

Since 1 February 2016, ‘right to rent’ has required landlords throughout England, or their letting agents, to carry out checks to ensure that prospective tenants have the right to rent a property in the UK.

Previously, failure to meet these requirements only attracted a civil penalty. However, from 1 December 2016, landlords who fail to carry out right to rent checks could be committing a criminal offence that attracts penalties ranging from an unlimited fine to up to five years in prison or both. The new rules have been introduced under the Immigration Act 2016.

The offence also occurs where a tenant who previously had the right to occupy a property has lost the right to do so and the landlord knows or has reason to believe this is the case.

In addition, the new rules make it easier for a landlord to evict an illegal immigrant tenant from their property. If they have been notified by the Secretary of State that an occupier of the premises is prohibited from renting because of their immigration status, they can serve a section 8 notice, which will end the tenancy within 28 days of the notice being served, without a court order.

Expert legal advice on immigration status checks

It is now more important than ever that landlords ensure they are meeting every aspect of their duties under the Immigration Act, including right to rent checks. You can view the government’s user guide to right to rent checks here.

In light of the changes, it would be prudent for landlords to amend their tenancy agreements to make it a condition of the tenancy that the tenant has the right to rent and oblige them to produce the documents required under the right to rent initiative.

For expert legal advice on right to rent checks and the Immigration Act please contact Senior Associate Solicitor Daniela Catuara by email or call her on 01323 435900. To learn about Daniela’s skills and experience please view her website profile.

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