The Immigration Act 2016 came into effect in England on 1st December 2016. This amends the previous Immigration Act 2014 and its purpose is to make it harder for illegal immigrants to live and work in the UK.
The new Act introduces offences affecting landlords and letting agents related to letting property to individuals, who do not have the Right to Rent.
Landlords or letting agents must carry out Right to Rent checks on all prospective adult occupiers. Where the tenant's Right to Rent is time limited, landlords or letting agents need to carry out follow up checks and, where appropriate, notify both the landlord and the Home Office that the time-limited Right to Rent has expired.
Additionally, the Home Secretary has the power to serve a Notice on a landlord or letting agent telling them that a person or persons occupying their property have been disqualified from renting in the UK as a result of their immigration status. On receipt of this notice, the landlord or letting agent will need to take reasonable steps to end the tenancy or serve a Notice on the occupiers.
A letting agent or landlord found guilty of an offence under the Immigration Act 2016 will be liable to imprisonment for up to twelve months or to a fine or both on summary conviction (Magistrate's Court) or up to five years imprisonment or a fine or both if convicted on indictment (Crown Court).
Whilst we are not lawyers, our advice is to ensure that you can prove that you carried out the Right To Rent checks properly and that you checked that any time limits discovered will not expire during the tenancy period. A letting agent or landlord will only have committed an offence under this new Act if they knowingly, or with reasonable cause to believe, let residential property to disqualified persons.
Whilst it is the landlord's responsibility to comply with all of the latest regulations, we're on hand to help you with any legislative advice as things do change so please telephone us for help. If you would rather we just got on with it, then we can offer a fully managed service to make life easier for you.