Landlords risk imprisonment under Right to Rent
Friday 13th November 2015
Under the terms of the new Immigration Bill proposed by the Government, landlords must check that anyone occupying their premises has the right to rent. The Government hopes that the new Bill will make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to settle in the UK.
Landlords must obtain evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship, such as a passport or biometric residence permit, before letting them rent. Copies of the documentation will be sufficient to prove that the landlord has carried out the checks and the landlord must retain the documents for at least one year after the tenancy ends.
Under the Bill a landlord or agent will commit a criminal offence if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the tenant or any adult living with the tenant does not have the right to rent property in the UK. Landlords, including directors of corporate bodies, face up to 5 years’ imprisonment if they are convicted of an offence.
It is likely to be increasingly difficult for individuals who have been granted asylum to obtain privately rented accommodation, with landlords understandably becoming even more reluctant to grant tenancies to individuals whose immigration status is unclear.
The Bill also makes it legal to end a tenancy agreement and evict tenants, without a court order, where an adult does not have a right to rent. It is therefore anticipated that these provisions, if enacted, may be challenged on the basis that they violate the human rights of illegal immigrants who are made homeless as a result.
The Immigration Bill received its second reading on 13 October 2015 and now proceeds to the committee stage. Despite its controversies, it is anticipated that the Bill will make it to the statute book with the changes coming in to effect from 1 February 2016.