The Government have announced that from 1st December 2016 “rogue landlords who are intent on flouting the law” could face both a fine and up to five years imprisonment. In some cases, landlords could also be subject to further sanctions under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Currently landlords who do not undertake Right to Rent checks could face a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per illegal tenant. In most cases this is likely to remain the case, however from 1st December, serious breaches of the Right to Rent regime will be a criminal offence under the Immigration Act 2016.
The Act will make it easier for landlords to evict tenants in the event that they are found to be illegal migrants; such as in cases where the tenancy started before the Right to Rent regime and for tenants whose visas have now expired.
In summary this Act supplements the Right to Rent provisions in the Immigration Act 2014. It adds the following additional elements:
– As well as the existing civil penalties, new criminal penalties are added for more severe offenders including unlimited fines and up to 5 years in prison;
– The Home Secretary can serve notices on landlords informing them that despite the fact they have checked the right to rent status of individuals, that those persons in fact have no right to rent;
– When a notice is served a landlord is now obliged to evict promptly and can be prosecuted if he does not. Guidance will be issued on what is meant by prompt eviction;
– There is a new ground for possession on a section 8 notice and equivalent powers to evict for non-Housing Act tenancies;
– If notices from the Home Secretary show that none of the occupiers in a property have a right to rent, then the landlord can issue a 28-day notice to quit and then recover possession of the property without going to court at all.
Right to Rent was established nationwide from 1st February 2016 and requires all private landlords, lettings and homeowners who let rooms to check the validity of their tenant’s right to remain in the UK. The scheme requires all those over the age of 18 to be checked, whether named on the tenancy agreement or not.