The Immigration Bill, which caused much uproar in the lettings sector when it was first proposed, due to it putting pressure on landlords and letting agents to effectively do the job of border control staff, was given Royal Assent earlier this month.
The Immigration Act 2014 “requires all private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing.”
The logic behind the Act is that housing is seen as an important enabler of illegal migration. By requiring landlords to conduct residency status checks, the availability of accommodation for those intending to stay in the UK illegally will be reduced. It is also intended that the Act will tackle the exploitation of migrants by rogue landlords.
The penalty for not conducting checks could be harsh. The Home Office has proposed two possible levels of penalty for not making reasonable checks – £1,000 or £3,000 per illegal immigrant, depending on the landlord’s compliance history.
Although this measure has Royal Assent, making it a law, no details have yet been released of the date it will come into force. It is expected that a commencement order will be made before Parliament breaks up for summer on 22 July, and it is hoped that guidance will be issued before then.