Sharan Rupra of Kangs Solicitors highlights the change in the evidential burden placed upon private landlords, since 1st February 2016, to ensure that their tenants are legally entitled to rent.
It is an offence for a landlord, or agent, to rent out a property knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the proposed tenant has no lawful immigration status in the U K.
The intention is to ensure that illegal immigrants are unable to establish a settled life in the UK by restricting access to private sector rented accommodation.
Where the investigating authority can show that that the landlord, or agent, did know, or had reasonable cause to believe, that the Tenant did not enjoy the legal status, the Landlord faces the risk of being prosecuted.
However, a statutory excuse (‘the statutory excuse’) against liability for a civil penalty can be established, as shown below.
Landlords Code of Practice | Kangs Advisory Solicitors
Landlords, or their agents, involved in letting private rented accommodation should complete a ‘right to rent’ check for new tenants who intend to use rented properties as their only or main home.
There is a range of documents which a landlord or agent may check to establish the statutory excuse and which includes:
- Biometrics Residence Permits,
- National Identity Cards,
- Certificates of Registration,
- Naturalisation Certificates,
- Birth Certificates
- Council tax bills, bank statements, GP registrations and utility bills for all tenants over the age of 18 years.
The landlord must keep a copy of all documents examined and make a note of the date(s) of such examination.
If the landlord has any doubts as to the immigration status of a potential tenant where, for example the potential tenant maintains that the Home Office hold the ID documents or there is an outstanding application or appeal, the landlord must request verification of a right to rent from the Home Office’s Landlords Checking Service.
The Statutory Excuse | Kangs Immigration Team
A landlord has an immediate and ongoing duty to ensure the necessary procedures are in place to ensure no property is let out illegally.
There are three steps required to establish and maintain the statutory excuse:
- the initial right to rent checks must be conducted
- appropriate follow up checks must be conducted
- the Home Office must be informed if follow up checks suggest that an occupier no longer has the right to rent
Penalties| Appeals | Kangs Criminal Solicitors
Failure to comply with the requirements can lead to a civil penalty up to £3,000 in respect of each illegal tenant.
Additionally, the landlord or agent could also be committing a criminal offence which could lead to a term of imprisonment of five years.
If a landlord receives a Penalty Notice from the Home Office, providing reasons for their decision, an objection can be lodged by writing to the Home Office within twenty eight days of the notice. There is also a right of appeal.
How Can We Help? | Kangs Immigration Solicitors
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Who Can I Contact For Help? | Kangs Solicitors
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