Landlord's responsibilities under the Immigration Act
The Immigration Act 2014 (“the Act”) received Royal Assent on 14th May 2014. The provisions relating to residential tenancy agreements were initially implemented into five pilot areas in the Midlands on 1st December 2014 and rolled out in England on 1st February 2016. The Government have provided a ‘Code of Practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation’ and a ‘Code of Practice for landlords: avoiding unlawful discrimination when conducting ‘right to rent’ checks in the private residential sector’ to assist landlords and agents in complying with the requirements. The Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) Order 2014 came into force on 1st December 2014 and sets out additional definition of terms within the code of practice and prescribes requirements for landlords and agents in order to establish an excuse against a penalty. The Immigration Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 12th May 2016 and the provisions relating to immigration right to rent came into effect on 1st December 2016 which amends the Immigration Act 2014.
The Government are taking action to tackle illegal immigration with the support from the public and private sector bodies. Whilst dealing with the issue of illegal immigration the Government are also determined to tackle the problem of rogue landlords and the exploitation of illegal immigrants within the housing sector. The Act introduces various reforms with the aim to provide a fair immigration system and to make it tougher on those with no right to live in the UK. Landlords will be required to carry out checks prior to letting a property to ensure that all prospective occupiers are in the UK legally and have not been disqualified by their immigration status.
Landlords must not authorise an adult to occupy premises under a residential tenancy agreement if the adult is disqualified as a result of their immigration status (s22). This includes occupiers who are not named on the tenancy agreement (this applies where reasonable enquiries have not been made by the landlord or where it should have been apparent from the enquiries that the landlord was likely to be an occupier) and occupiers with a ‘limited right to rent.’
Limited right to rent:
A person with a limited right to rent is:
- A person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period, or
- A person who is not a relevant national and is entitled to enter or remain in the UK by virtue of an enforceable EU right or of any provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.
Residential tenancy agreement
A residential tenancy agreement means a tenancy that grants a right of occupation for a property for residential use, provides for the payment of rent, and is not an excluded agreement. A tenancy includes any licence, lease, sub-lease or sub-tenancy.
A person is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying premises under a residential tenancy agreement if that person is not a relevant national and does not have a ‘right to rent’ in relation to a premises (s21).
Right to rent
A person does not have a right to rent in relation to a premises if:
- A person requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom but does not have it; or
- A person’s leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom is subject to a condition preventing that person from occupying premises.