From today (1 February 2016) the Home Office introduced financial penalties for landlords in England who fail to check that new adult tenants have the right to rent in the UK. Under the scheme, which is implemented by Immigration Enforcement’s (IE’s) interventions and sanctions directorate, landlords who let their properties to illegal immigrants could face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.
Right to Rent is part of the Government’s approach to building a fairer and more effective immigration system. The scheme was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014, and is part of a package of measures which make it more difficult for illegal migrants to settle in the UK. As well as being denied access to rental property, these individuals can now expect to have their driving licences revoked, to be denied a new bank account and be unable to access a wide range of public and private sector benefits and services including some free healthcare services.
The scheme has been running in parts of the West Midlands since December 2014, and the extension to England is the next phase of a UK-wide rollout. IE officers had previously been empowered to arrest illegal tenants, but there were no measures for tackling the landlords who rent to them.
The rules create new opportunities for partnership working, particularly with local authorities as they tackle rogue landlords and problem properties in their boroughs. They will also allow for intelligence and data to be shared with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), fire services and other enforcement partners to help tackle landlords who knowingly house illegal migrants, fail to pay tax and fail to keep buildings in a fit state.