Landlords or agents engaging in illegal renting—renting a property to a person in the UK illegally—are liable for a fine. This measure was introduced as part of the UK’s hostile environment approach, making it difficult for those in the UK illegally to live and work there.
Section 22 of the Immigration Act prohibits any landlord or agent from renting a property to a person without a visa. This includes renting to individuals who may have had a valid visa initially but, at some point during the tenancy, no longer possess one.
It’s important to note that the above section of the act applies to those who have issued a residential tenancy agreement.
Previously, the fines for landlords or agents in breach of the act were a maximum of £3,000 per occupier. However, amendments have now been made to the Immigration Act 2014, increasing the maximum fine to £20,000 per occupier.
This change will come into force on 13th February 2024. However, it will not apply to any contravention that occurred solely before this date.
The UK Home Office has stated: “You could be sent to prison for 5 years or get a fine for renting property in England to someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to rent in the UK.”
This includes if you had any reason to believe that:
- they did not have leave (permission) to enter or stay in the UK
- their leave had expired
- their papers were incorrect or false
You can also be fined if both of the following apply:
- you rent your property to someone who is not allowed to stay in the UK
- you cannot show that you checked their right to rent
The government is cracking down on landlords and agents that do not conduct checks when letting a property to tenants. The change shows the importance of ensuring that clear records are held of your tenant’s immigration status and continuing to keep up to date records throughout the tenant’s occupation.
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