The Immigration Bill is now Law!

by Property 118

14:02 PM, 21st May 2014
About 5 years ago

The Immigration Bill is now Law!

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The Immigration Bill is now Law!

Immigration BillOn the 14th of May last week the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent.

The Immigration Act 2014 contains 77 clauses and changes how the UK’s immigration system works. The Act is designed to reduce attractions that draw illegal migrants, make it easier to remove people with no right to reside and encourage UK Courts to consider Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires in immigration cases when taking into account Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Controversially this Act directly affects landlords and I quote from the act – requires all private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing.

The Home Office proposes two possible levels of penalty for not making reasonable checks, £1,000 or £3,000 per illegal immigrant, depending on the landlord’s compliance history. Rechecks might have to be made annually for those with temporary leave. A landlord would be required not to renew a tenancy agreement if a tenant cannot provide documentation at the time of recheck, but would not be required to take possession proceedings. The landlord would also be required to report the suspected illegal migrant to the Home Office

The rational for this is that housing is an important enabler of illegal migration. Requiring landlords to check residency status is intended to reduce the availability of accommodation for those intending to stay illegally in the UK. The policy is also intended to tackle the exploitation of migrants by rogue landlords

The section looking at residential tenancies confers power to The Secretary of State to:

  • Create a new system of civil penalties for those who authorise the occupation of premises by a person over the age of 18 who is subject to immigration control and who has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or whose leave is invalid or has expired and who has not been granted permission to rent property by the Secretary of State.
  • Amend the maximum sum which maybe required as a penalty payable by a landlord or agent who authorises the occupation of premises by a disqualified person under a residential tenancy agreement
  • Prescribe requirements in relation to the steps which must be taken by a landlord or agent to confirm the immigration status of an individual prior to authorising their occupation of premises
  • Set out the framework for the civil penalty scheme and cover matters such as the level of penalty which would be appropriate for first time transgressors as opposed to landlords and agents found to be letting to illegal migrants on multiple occasions without carrying out proper checks, and any differential treatment to be afforded to landlords depending on whether they are operating in order to generate a profit or have taken in a lodger on an informal arrangement in order to contribute to the costs of running their own home.

Clause 28 requires the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice specifying what a landlord or agent should or should not do to ensure that, while avoiding liability to a penalty they do not contravene the Equality Act 2010 so far as relating to race, or the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997. The purpose of the code is to provide practical guidance to landlords and agents on how to comply with the obligation not to allow the occupation of premises contrary to the provisions in the Bill without discriminating on grounds of race.



Comments

DC

22:27 PM, 21st May 2014
About 5 years ago

This is going to be fun trying to work out whether the passport you are looking at is actually anything like the real thing and also deciphering whether you are looking at an elaborate fake or not. Even the Police and Border Agency spend hours trying to sus out dodgy documentation and they have a lot of guidance literature to help them so it will be a minefield for us landlords and agents.

Yvonne B.

1:08 AM, 22nd May 2014
About 5 years ago

If you require sight of valid documentation - ie Passport, what do you do if the tenant appears British, maybe DSS and has never had a passport, many British citizens have never had one? Do you have to turn them away as they cannot prove a right to reside?
Or, if they are current tenants - do you have to inform the Home Office that they have refused to provide passport ID and they may be illegal??

Yvonne

Romain Garcin

4:45 AM, 22nd May 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Yvonne B." at "22/05/2014 - 01:08":

That's a good question, Yvonne.

This may be addressed in future guidance.

The existing guidance for employers could be an interesting read since in effect what must be checked is similar: At the moment it looks like anyone without a passport must provide a full birth certificate or certificate of naturalisation.

Michael Barnes

13:26 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 5 years ago

Does this mean that we now havbe a law that says we landlords have to verify right to reside without any guidance on how to perform that verification, because the Secretary of State has not yet issued the code of practice?

Are we in the situation that we either do nothing, because the guidance has not been issued, or make checks that we deem appropriate and risk breaking the Equality Act?

John MacAlevey

13:52 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 5 years ago

We ask for a Home Office letter (then we check with HO if necessary) stating they have leave to stay for all the proposed occupants & passport copies. Cover one`s back.

Robert Mellors

12:43 PM, 23rd May 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Yvonne B." at "22/05/2014 - 01:08":

If they are DSS tenants then presumably proof of their benefits would suffice, as the DWP (DSS) would already have verified their right to reside here.

Many of my residents do not have passports or birth certificates, but they are claiming welfare benefits so at some point they must have proved to the DWP (a Government department) who they are and that they have a right to reside here and claim benefits here. Surely, if all the checks carried out by the State have already verified who they are, then can a landlord rely on this?

Many of my residents have been street homeless and no longer have passports or birth certificates, and certainly don't have funds to obtain such documents, are landlords supposed to leave them to die on the streets, or can we accept their welfare benefit award letter as sufficient evidence that we can house them?

As my existing residents are unlikely to have a passport or birth certificate, should I report them all to the Home Office? Does anyone have a contact phone number or e-mail address for someone at the Home Office to whom I can report my residents to?????

Mandy Thomson

13:04 PM, 23rd May 2014
About 5 years ago

If you were to accept benefit documents as proof, these would need to specifically spell out whether the benefit is means tested or not. Non UK or EEA immigrants subject to immigration control are allowed to claim CONTRIBUTION based benefits (e.g. Contribution based Job Seekers Allowance as opposed to income based Job Seekers Allowance) - these aren't classed as public funds as the claimant has paid National Insurance in order to receive them.
In the specific case of someone who's street homeless, I would suggest asking them to obtain a letter from the Job Centre handling their claim, to the effect that they are claiming income based benefit.

DAVID BREWSTER

14:42 PM, 14th October 2014
About 5 years ago

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