It may come off as awfully dramatic, but it is true: The UK Government has recently introduced a host of changes to the Immigration Act 2016, and failing to comply with some of its aspects, specifically, the Right to Rent requirements, could make landlords criminally liable. We are talking about up to five years in prison! So if you are renting out your property or thinking to do so in the future, take extra note of these forthcoming changes.
What Does The Law Ask Of Landlords Regarding Illegal Immigrants?
What the Immigration Act 2016 is trying to achieve is to curb the rampant illegal immigration rates in the country (the current estimate is that there is 600,000 illegal immigrants in the UK). By making it tougher for illegal immigrants to find work and accommodations, i.e. restrict their access to basic services, the Government hopes to further crack down the issue.
This is the official reasoning for such a decision: “Housing illegal immigrants in the private rented sector allows such people to establish a settled life in the UK and frustrate the necessary process of returning them to their home country. This creates a significant cost to the public purse and also reduces the amount of housing stock available to British citizens and others residing here legally.”
For that reason, landlords or letting agents are required to carry out an immigration check on their prospective tenants, to make sure they have a legal right to live and rent in the UK. All landlords need to check the documents of all tenants (not just those they suspect may be illegal) and keep copies on file. Failing to do so could result in a fine of £3,000
However, in case of persistent breaches or failing to take steps to remove illegal migrants from the property, the landlords will be facing not only a fine, but also a custodial sentence as well. Truth be told, the landlords have been required to conduct these checks since the 2014 Immigration Act came into force – but these most recent changes have made the sanctions much harsher in order to ensure maximum compliance from landlords and letting agents alike.
The most recent changes will also make it a lot easier for landlords to evict illegal immigrant tenants, sometimes even without a court order.
“Illegal immigrants do not have the right to rent a home in the UK, but some unscrupulous landlords continue to exploit this market for financial gain. The Home Office has made it clear it is working to crackdown on this practice.”, commented Carole Charge, technical and compliance director at property specialist Leaders.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire justified the law alterations by saying that “if you are here illegally, you shouldn’t be entitled to receive the everyday benefits and services available to hard-working UK families and people who have come to this country legitimately to contribute.”
On the other hand, making the anti-immigration rules stricter has caused a lot of upstir among NGOs and human rights activists. The Migrants’ Rights Network expressed its revolt towards the new law by saying this is “a piece of legislation that sets out to deliberately harm some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
Final Words: Tenancy Laws And Illegal Immigrants
As you can see, this is a fierce debate and issue from both sides. No matter what side you’re on morally with this issue, the facts are that the law is clear in this area. Landlords must obey UK housing laws regarding illegal immigrants or face fines or even imprisonment.
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