Landlords To Be Fined For Housing Migrants Who Do Not Have A Right To Remain In The UK: Pilot Scheme Launched
From 1st December 2014 private landlords who own property in the West Midlands (Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and/or Sandwell) must check whether a prospective tenant is present in the UK lawfully, in accordance with the Immigration Act 2014. This is part of a phased introduction across the country.
If a private landlord rents accommodation to a tenant who does not have the legal right to reside in the UK, the landlord could be fined up to £3,000. However, landlords will be able to establish a statutory excuse against this civil penalty if they have conducted specific document checks prior to allowing the tenant to occupy the rented accommodation.
Tenants will fall into three broad categories, which will be dependent on their UK immigration status. The majority of people will have:
- An unlimited right to rent - landlords will therefore not be liable for a civil penalty if they rent accommodation for occupation by someone with an unlimited right to rent in the UK. Examples of someone with an unlimited right to rent would be tenants who are British citizens, EEA and Swiss nationals; and tenants who have the right of abode in the UK or who have obtained indefinite leave to remain in the UK;
- A time limited right to rent - landlords will not be liable for a civil penalty if they rent accommodation for occupation by someone with a time limited right to rent, but to maintain an excuse against a penalty, a landlord will need to conduct follow up checks. In the event they do not conduct follow up checks they will be liable to a civil penalty. Examples of tenants with a time limited right to rent would be sponsored workers or those in the UK under one of the partner routes etc.
- No right to rent - landlords will normally be liable for a civil penalty if they authorise occupation of accommodation by a person who does not have the right to rent in the UK. For example, tenants who have overstayed their visas.
The Secretary of State also has the ability to grant an individual a right to rent in the UK on a discretionary basis. In these cases a landlord will not be liable for a civil penalty, if they authorise accommodation for use as an only or main home by an adult who has been granted a discretionary right to rent.
Regardless of which category a prospective tenant falls under, the landlord will need to keep evidence of the checks they have undertaken when letting their property. If a landlord appoints an agent to act on their behalf in this matter and the agent accepts responsibility for compliance, then they will be liable in the place of the landlord.
Several organisations have opposed the introduction of these checks, arguing the UK Visa and Immigration should carry out checks themselves rather than ask landlords to act as Immigration Officers! We will update you once the dates for the full roll-out of this scheme UK-wide are announced.
If you would like to know more about how this scheme affects your business, please contact our dedicated Business Immigration Team: Owen Jones, Anita de Atouguia, Mandeep Khroud, Victoria Burnip or Chloe Harrold.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.