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Residential landlords in the sight line over illegal renters

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William Backhouse is a Chartered Legal Executive in our Dispute Resolution team and can be contacted on 01323 434416 or by email on

The Government’s crackdown on illegal migration has seen a tripling of penalties for landlords who fail to enforce ‘right-to-rent’ rules.

The move will see landlords facing up to five years in prison and fines as high as £20,000.

The higher penalties will kick in at the start of 2024.  For a first breach, fines have increased to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier, with repeat breaches subject to penalties of up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier.

All landlords in England are required by law to conduct a right to rent check before letting their property. The requirement is set out in sections 20 to 24 of the Immigration Act 2014 and applies to residential tenancy agreements where “one or more adults have the right to occupy the premises”, meaning those without lawful immigration status are excluded.

“If a landlord is found to have knowingly let their property to an illegal tenant, they may be committing a criminal offence.  Carrying out adequate right to rent checks gives rise to  a ‘statutory excuse’ which guards against both civil and criminal liability, so it’s important to retain evidence of steps taken,” said William Backhouse.

“Every residential landlord has a responsibility to ensure that all legal requirements are met: they cannot avoid those responsibilities by simply assuming an agent is doing the necessary checks.  They need to see evidence of the checks having been completed and know that records are kept in case there is any subsequent challenge.”

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