Right to Rent Update: criminal sanctions on way for landlords renting to illegal immigrants

Written on 21 Oct 2016

It has recently been announced that the promised new criminal sanctions for landlords who breach the right to rent obligations (discussed in our previous article here) are set to be brought into force in December 2016.

When implemented, landlords who knowingly rent out property to adults who do not have the right to rent in the UK could face criminal sanctions. These measures were included in the Immigration Act 2016 to address illegal immigration, but like much of the Act, have not yet been brought into force.

Confirmation that a commencement order is set to bring these criminal sanctions into force by the end of 2016 was given in a speech by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month. The provisions are not to be ignored by landlords: if found guilty, a landlord could face an unlimited fine and/or up to 5 years in prison.

Landlords can claim some respite, as the Residential Landlords Association successfully lobbied for a defence to be included in the Act for landlords, who will avoid criminal sanctions if, upon becoming aware of the breach, they promptly take “reasonable steps” to terminate the tenancy. What are “reasonable steps” has yet to be determined – watch this space!

Extensive guidance, including the Home Office’s code of practice is available here.