Since Right to Rent legislation came into force on the 1st February only 31 illegal immigrants have been removed from the UK as a result of these checks now made by all landlords and letting agents.
However, from the 1st December 2016, under The Immigration Act 2016, a new maximum criminal sentence of 5 years imprisonment for landlords or agents who fail to carry out Right to Rent checks or remove illegal migrants from their property was introduced.
This seems entirely disproportionate considering the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill, confirmed data on Right to Rent statistics was no longer routinely collected as it would now be too expensive to do so.
Figures from the House of Lords revealed that in the first 9 months of the new legislation only 75 civil penalties were issued to landlords of tenants with no Right to Rent.
Right to Rent checks identified to the Home Office 654 private tenants that had no right to stay in the UK and only 31 were deported.
The Immigration Act 2016 was designed to crack down on illegal migration by making it more difficult for illegal immigrants to work, rent property and receive support in the UK. As part of several new sanctions, it also puts even more pressure on landlords to make sure tenants have the right to rent, and increases the penalties for those who fail to do so.
Since February 2016, landlords have been required to check the immigration status of their tenants under ‘Right to Rent’ legislation. Landlords will continue to be liable for fines of up to £3,000 per tenant where right to rent checks have not been properly carried out. However, the new law also allows for landlords to face criminal fines or up to five years in prison.
Making a check
– Find out who will be living there as their only or main home
– Check their original documents and make sure they are the tenant’s and haven’t been altered, that all the information (e.g. date of birth and photo) is consistent on all and that if any names are different, that they have the supporting documents, such as a marriage certificate
– Keep a note of the date you make the check
– Take copies of all the documents and keep them for the duration of the tenancy plus one year
– Or you can ask your managing agent to run the checks for you, but you should put this in writing
Tenants with a limited right to stay
If the tenant has a limited time they can stay in the UK, you need to:
– Run the check in the 28 days before the tenancy begins
– Run another check on their status just before the expiry of their right to stay or 12 months after your last check, depending on which is longest
– If they don’t have a right to stay at that point, you must tell the Home Office
If the Home Office has the tenant’s documents, then you can use their checking service https://www.gov.uk/landlord-immigration-check to find out if you can rent using their Home Office reference number.
Find out more
You can read more about the landlord’s right to rent code of practice here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice
Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said “As with Right to Work checks, the Right to Rent scheme is predicated on checks being carried out by third parties in this case landlords and lettings agents.
“This means that the majority of illegal migrant prospective tenants will be denied access to the private rented sector as a result of these checks with no intervention by enforcement officers and no reference to the Home Office.
“The sanctions set out in the Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016 in relation to the Right to Rent scheme are there to address circumstances where the scheme is not adhered to by landlords and agents.
“The Home Office does not hold information about the overall numbers of illegal migrants found in private rented accommodation.
“However our records show that between the start of the scheme and 30 September 2016, 654 individuals were either named on a Civil Penalty Referral Notice served on a landlord, or encountered on an enforcement visit during which such a Notice was served, or encountered as a result of information provided through the Landlords Checking Service, or encountered as a result of other intelligence provided about property let to illegal migrants.
“Of these individuals, 31 were removed from the UK over the same period.
“Other cases may be being progressed to removal, or have been made subject to reporting restrictions, or have sought to regularise their stay, or have left the UK voluntarily.
“The Right to Rent scheme is designed to restrict access to the private rented sector for illegal migrants in order to encourage voluntary departure from the UK and discourage illegal migration.
“The Home Office will always investigate information it receives about illegal migrants and take appropriate enforcement action according to the information available and the circumstances of the case.
“It is not always possible to attribute a return or other enforcement activity to the application of a sanction earlier in the case or to the route through which a particular individual was brought to the attention of the Home Office.”