The Immigration Bill is now Law!Make Text Bigger
On 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.
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