UK Home Office makes failures to comply with Right to Rent Check a criminal offence under Immigration Act 2016

Since the introduction of the Right to Rent Check Scheme, the Home Office Checking Service has been used over 11,000 times. It is evident the Right to Rent Check Scheme has served as an effective deterrent in preventing landlords and agents renting to tenants who do not hold lawful immigration status. As a direct result of its success, the UK Government has made further amendments to the Immigration Act 2016 with the introduction of new criminal offences for landlords and agents who fail to comply with the Right to Rent Check. Landlords and agents who fail to conduct the Right to Rent Check could face imprisonment and/or heavy fines.

Right to Rent checks can be carried out using LEXVISA Immigration Solicitors in London

UK Landlords and Agents could face criminal liability under the Immigration Act 2016

As a landlord, you will have committed a criminal offence under section 33A of the Immigration Act 2016, if you knowingly rent your property to a person who has been disqualified from renting in the UK as a result of holding unlawful immigration status in the UK. However, the Immigration Act 2016 does offer protection to landlords who are found guilty of the offence as a result of an innocent mistake. Under the Act, a criminal offence is only committed if you knowingly rent your property to a person who does not hold lawful immigration status in the UK or you had reasonable cause to believe your tenant did not have lawful immigration status in the UK.

The criminal offences provisions also apply to agents who rent properties on behalf of landlords. Section 33B states agents will also be committing an offence if an agent:

(a)knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the landlord would contravene section 22 by entering into the residential tenancy agreement in question,

(b)had sufficient opportunity to notify the landlord of that fact before the landlord entered into the agreement, but

(c)did not do so.

It is of paramount importance both landlords and agents conduct the mandatory Right to Rent Check otherwise they may be liable to face criminal proceedings. As a landlord or an agent, you may have a defence available to you if you can prove you have taken reasonable steps within a reasonable time frame to terminate the residential tenancy agreement once it was in your knowledge that your tenant no longer qualifies to rent in the UK. It is essential you conduct regular checks for all your tenants including permitted occupiers in the property and ensure their immigration status is checked regularly as it is possible for a tenant’s immigration status to change over the course of the tenancy.

It is clear the government has introduced the criminal offences to prevent individuals with unlawful immigration status to rent in the UK and to prevent migrants from being exploited. Over the years landlords and agents have often taken advantage of migrants by forcing them to live in undesirable living conditions. Recently Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has said,

“landlords and agents who exploit migrants and who repeatedly fail to carry out Right to Rent Check or fail to take steps to remove illegal immigrants from their  property will find they could now face going to jail.”

If you are found of an offence under section 33A or 33B you will liable to face criminal proceedings against you.  A person guilty under section 33 is liable:

(a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, to a fine or to both; or

(b)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine or to both.

Importance of carrying out UK Home Office Right to Rent Check properly

We have previously written about the Right to Rent Check, as a landlord or an agent you must conduct a Right to Rent Check before renting a property. Previously if you failed to carry out the necessary checks you may have been subject to a civil penalty of up to £3000 per illegal migrant tenant. However, under the recent changes, it is likely if found guilty of an offence under The Immigration Act 2016 you could be subject to criminal proceedings. There is no specific method of carrying out Right to Rent checks but the government have provided some guidance on how these checks should be conducted. If you need assistance in conducting the mandatory Right to Rent checks  or have queries,  our team of solicitors are able to assist you in ensuring you are not guilty of an offence under the Immigration Act 2016.

Successful UK Home Office Right to Rent Check

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified solicitors and barristers will be able to successfully guide you through any relevant process step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of the law. Please always call us for a telephone case assessment even if you wish to consider other advisers. If you wish to consider your options, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your matter and if necessary advise you of the next steps you should take in a consultation.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

We can ensure that you remain compliant with your employer duties and responsibilities. Get in touch with our business immigration lawyers now on 02071830570. You can also reach us via our contact form.

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