The Immigration Act 2016 – a new ‘right to rent?’

The Immigration Act 2016 (the “Act”) came into force on the 1 December 2016 and its aim was to make it more difficult for those with no right to be in the UK to rent private accommodation.

A new ‘right to rent’ provision has been created under the Act imposing new criminal offences for landlords and agents who either, repeatedly fail to carry out the right checks, or fail to take the appropriate steps to remove illegal migrants from their property.

From 1 December, landlords now need to make the appropriate checks with their tenants by:

(1) obtaining a tenant’s original acceptable documents that allow them to live in the UK;

(2) checking the documents with the tenant present; and

(3) copying and keeping the copied documents on file and record the date of the check.

Landlords or agents in England could face a £3,000 fine or could be charged with a criminal offence if they know, or have reasonable cause to believe, that they are letting to an illegal migrant.

Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire expressed “illegal immigrants should not be able to access or remain in private rented accommodation- preventing lawful residents from finding a home”.

At the moment, there is no legal obligation for a Landlord in Wales to check the immigration status of any of their prospective tenants as the legislation has yet to be implemented in Wales. The legislative competency for immigration, under which these proposals have been implemented, lies purely with the Home Office, within the UK Government and we will keep you updated if the present position in Wales changes.