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Immigration Act 2016 introduces criminal sanctions for landlords

Landlords will from today face criminal sanctions for renting to individuals without valid immigration status. Commencement Order No.2 brings into force s. 39, 40 and 41 of the Immigration Act 2016, which seek to target illegal immigrants by restricting their access to housing.

Landlords and the Old Law.

The 2016 Act is not the first piece of legislation to penalise landlords due to their tenants’ immigration status. Under the 2014 Act, landlords could be subject to financial penalties if it was discovered that their tenants had invalid immigration status. However, in order to incentivise landlords to carry out further immigration checks upon their tenants, penalties have become much harsher under the new Act.

Landlords and the New Law.

Under s.39, landlords in the private rental sector commit a criminal offence if:

(a) their “premises are occupied by an adult who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying premises under a residential tenancy agreement” OR

(b) if they have reasonable grounds to believe that their tenant no longer has the requisite immigration status to be allowed to rent, but continue to allow them to do so.

s.40 creates a new provision allowing landlords to evict a tenant where the Secretary of State has provided them with written notice of their tenants’ invalid immigration status.

s.41 further amends grounds for possession as set out in the Housing Act 1988 to include mandatory grounds for possession if the individual is over 18 and does not have valid leave.

The Impact of s.39-41.

These provisions are likely to have a substantial impact both on landlords and tenants. The checks need to ascertain an individual’s immigration status can be extensive and/or difficult, and it can be very difficult for a landlord, particularly a small scale private one, to know what exactly to do.

It is likely, therefore, that they may become less willing to rent to non UK citizens. In a recent survey, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants found that because of the 2014 provisions, 42% of landlords stated that they were far less likely to consider renting accommodation to an individual without a British passport. This creates a substantial problem for migrants, 74% of whom live in rented accommodation.

In addition, s.40 allows a landlord to give as little as 28 days before the eviction of a tenant due to their immigration status. This makes it incredible difficult to challenge the decision, and may be particularly problematic if the individual in question is vulnerable, and/or have few other connections or friends within the UK.

Contact our Immigration Barristers in London

For more information about any aspect of the Immigration Act 2016, contact our experienced immigration barristers in Covent Garden, London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.


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