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Landlords in the UK can find themselves in serious trouble if they fail to check the immigration status of their tenants. The UK government measures to crack down on illegal immigration state that landlords could be sent in for 5 years of imprisonment or be charged an unlimited fine for renting a property in England to someone who they knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to rent in the UK.
This includes if you had any reason to believe that:
You can also be fined if both of the following apply:
This will trigger power for landlords to end the tenancy, without a court order in some circumstances.
Before enabling a tenant to move in, landlords will be forced to do “right to rent” checks on their immigration status.
The new plans also call for the elimination of financial assistance to unsuccessful asylum seekers.
Because they are residing in the UK with their families, 10,000 asylum seekers are still receiving a taxpayer-funded allowance of 36 pounds per week despite their applications being rejected.
The Right to Rent provisions, enacted by Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, make landlords accountable for ensuring that their tenants have the legal right to rent in the UK. Agents must also guarantee that the checks have been conducted by themselves or the landlord.
If landlords refuse to do so, they risk being prosecuted and facing up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.
The Immigration Act 2016 modifies the Immigration Act 2014, allowing agents and landlords to correct the issue by ending the tenancy of illegal immigrants and evicting them within a reasonable time limit.
This is covered by Section 33A of the 2016 Act, which provides that a landlord or agent charged with renting to a person above the age of 18 who no longer has (or never had) the right to rent in the UK can use this as a defence:
The Immigration Act 2016 changes the Housing Act 1988, the Rent Act 1977, and the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, effective December 1, 2016, to reduce the security of tenure of tenants who do not have a right to rent.
The procedure for eviction depends on whether:
From December 1, 2016, landlords may adopt a ‘quick track’ eviction process in which all tenants or licensees lose their right to rent.  Only once the Home Office has issued a disqualification notice (or notices) to the landlord in accordance with section 33D(2) of the Immigration Act 2014 may this be used.
A ‘section 33D(2) notice’ must:
The occupier’s or occupier’s status is ‘converted’ to that of an excluded occupant by the Home Office notification, which authorises the landlord to terminate the agreement by serving a minimum of 28 days’ notice on a regulated firm.  The notice of disqualification must be attached to the required form.
All types of tenure in the private rented sector are affected by the change to excluded occupier status (except those that are excluded occupiers already).
The landlord’s notification is enforceable as a High Court order. The landlord can evict the occupant without a court order and without having to apply to the court for bailiffs to enforce possession after the landlord’s notice has expired. They must do so lawfully and peaceably.
If the occupants have not gone by the time the landlord’s notice expires and the landlord wants to avoid committing a criminal offence under the Criminal Law Act 1977, they can apply to the High Court for permission to enforce it through a writ of possession. Any application for authorisation to issue a writ of possession must include a copy of the Home Office’s ‘section 33D(2) notice.’ 
Depending on the occupier’s security of tenure status, the landlord may lawfully take possession if at least one occupant has no right to rent.
The relevant schedules of the Rent Act 1977 and Housing Act 1988 have been updated to include further reasons for possession.
The security of tenure of the occupant determines how a landlord may obtain possession.
An illegal eviction occurs when a landlord evicts a tenant/licensee without completing the correct procedure for the type of tenancy or licence in question.
Many landlord organisations advise landlords and agents to conduct right-to-rent checks on all tenants to verify that they are complying with these regulations while also avoiding being accused of racism or bias towards any potential tenant. The Home Office has created a Right to Rent checklist as well as landlord guidance.
Only advisers authorised by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner are allowed to provide advice on immigration matters, such as obtaining leave to enter and remain in the UK or challenging a decision of the Home Office.
Immigrants who are unaware of their immigration status can check it on a Helpline created by The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). They can call on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 am to 1 pm, on 0207 553 7470 to check their status. It is specifically aimed at people who are unsure about their immigration status and require specialist immigration advice on whether they can obtain permission to rent from the Home Office, the strength of their claim to regularise their status in the UK, and how to take their case further.
Shergroup can help landlords in carrying out a background check that includes an immigration check of the tenants to verify their right to rent. Using our service landlords can save themselves from any potential legal trouble and can carry out their renting business peacefully.
Our solution is cost-effective and offers detailed background information about the tenant. Once you’re satisfied with the background check then you can go forward with the rent formalities.
If you’re stuck with a naughty tenant, we can also help you with a tenant eviction solution or any other property solution. To know more about our background screening or tenant eviction solution call our business solutions advisors.
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Last updated | 19 July 2023
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