The Government has announced its proposals for the new Immigration Bill and it contains some significant ramifications for landlords letting to migrants. The Bill continues the points considered in the pilot scheme that was run in the West Midlands, where landlords had to carry out “right to rent” checks on migrant tenants to ensure they were in the country legally. Penalties for failing to do so were up to £3,000.
Under new proposals these “right to rent” checks will be extended to all landlords before they can give a migrant or asylum seeker a tenancy. There will be a blacklist of landlords who have repeatedly failed to comply, so that local authorities can ban them from renting out property. These repeat offenders may also face a fine or up to five years in prison, as well as further sanctions under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The Bill also proposes that landlords will be obliged to end the tenancy should the asylum seeker/migrant lose their request to live in the UK. The Home Office will issue the landlord with a notice that their tenant’s request has failed and that the tenant no longer has the right to rent a property.
This introduces some serious issues however, as it is currently illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant without a court order which is then enforced by a bailiff. So does this mean that the landlord, at the behest of the Home Office, will be forced to incur significant costs, time and potential lost rent in evicting a tenant they are perfectly happy with? And what happens if the landlord has no legal grounds on which to evict the tenant? And why, therefore, would a landlord ever take the risk of offering a tenancy to a migrant or asylum seeker whose status had not yet been determined?
The proposals do suggest that the landlord may, under some circumstances, be permitted to end the tenancy without a court order. No details have yet been provided on this however.
We shall have to wait and see.
Published on 07/08/2015