Residential lettings: March of the regulations
On 1 December 2016 further new changes come into effect relating to the Government's restrictions on letting dwellings to illegal immigrants.
Right to rent
In 2014 the Government introduced its right to rent regime, with the intention of restricting the access of people unlawfully in the UK to certain key services, including rented accommodation. The Immigration Act 2014 prohibits private landlords of residential properties from allowing people without the appropriate immigration status to occupy their dwellings. Landlords and agents are required to check the status of prospective tenants and to document that they have done so. They must also ensure continuing compliance during the tenancy. Landlords face a fine of up to £3000 if they fail to comply.
The right to rent scheme was initially piloted in five areas in the Midlands and was subsequently rolled out across the rest of England from 1 February 2016. It applies in respect of residential tenancy agreements entered into on or after that date.
New offence and ground for possession
In May 2016 the Immigration Act 2016 was laid before Parliament introducing a new criminal offence which targets landlords and agents who repeatedly fail to conduct right to rent checks, or who fail to take steps to remove illegal immigrants from their properties. Sanctions to enforce this offence range from an unlimited fine to five years imprisonment or both.
The 2016 Act also makes it easier in England for landlords to comply with their obligations to evict illegal immigrants from dwellings. A new mandatory ground for possession (Ground 7B) was introduced in the 2016 Act to provide the landlord with the necessary power to terminate the tenancy under the Housing Act 1988 if the landlord receives a notice from the Home office confirming that the tenant or other adult occupiers are disqualified from occupying the dwelling due to their immigration status.
All of these new provisions come into force on 1 December 2016.
New notice for possession
A new prescribed form of notice seeking possession under section 8 Housing Act 1988 (Form 3) was introduced in the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms)(England)(Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/1118). The new form reflects the new ground for possession introduced under the 2016 Act and must be used in place of the previous form for all notices seeking possession under section 8 served on or after 1 December 2016.