Last minute changes to the Immigration Bill to give greater protection to landlords were approved in May, shortly before the bill received royal assent.
New streamlined procedures that make it easier for landlords to use a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) to evict residential tenants came into force on 23rd August 2020.
Right to rent
Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 introduced the Right to Rent regulations which make landlords responsible for checking that their tenants have the right to rent in the UK. Agents must also ensure that they or the landlord has completed the checks.
If landlords fail to do so, they are liable for prosecution and imprisonment for up to five years, a fine or both.
Immigration Act 2016
The Immigration Act 2016 amends the Immigration Act 2014, which now mean that agents and landlords will have the opportunity to rectify the situation by ending the tenancy of illegal immigrants and evicting the tenants in an appropriate time frame.
This is covered in Section 33A of the 2016 Act and states the landlord or agent who has been charged with the offence of renting to a person over the age of 18 who no longer has (or never had) the right to rent in the UK, can use as a defence:
- Proof that they have taken reasonable steps to terminate the residential tenancy agreement, and
- Proof that they have taken such steps within a reasonable period beginning with the time when they first knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the premises were occupied by the adult who no longer had the right to rent
Many landlord associations advice landlords and agents to undertake the right to rent checks on all tenants to ensure that they are both complying with these requirements and also cannot be accused of racism or prejudice against any potential tenant.
The Home Office has put together a Right to Rent check list and guidance for landlords.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance