On 1st December, failure to comply with the Right to Rent scheme became a criminal offence under the Immigration Act 2016.
Although the scheme has been in place since February, it only carried civil penalties.
The latest study by Tenant Referencing UK shows that 50% of landlords are unaware of their legal obligations when it comes to checking the immigration status of prospective tenants.
Landlords or their letting agents are now committing a criminal offence if they have “reasonable cause to believe” an illegal migrant is renting the property that they are letting. It is also an offence for agents who have “reasonable cause to believe” that their landlord client is letting to a tenant who’s disqualified due to their immigration status and who go ahead with the management of the property.
Additionally, if a landlord or agent serves a section 8 notice that does not specifically refer to the Immigration Act 2016, it is considered invalid and the tenant will have a technical defence to possession proceedings.
Over the last three months, Tenant Referencing UK conducted a poll of 1,000 new landlord members, finding out what they know about the Right to Rent rules. Worryingly, 50% of those asked were unaware of any such legislation, meaning that around one million landlords are at risk of imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for failing to comply.
To avoid facing imprisonment or hefty fines, remember to stick to the law and check the immigration status of all prospective tenants.
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