Implications of Immigration Bill for landlords and their tenants
As a landlord, how much do you know about your tenants? You might know, for instance, if they are animal lovers or, from viewings, who their favourite sports teams are. But do you know if they have the right to be in the country legally?
Government proposals under the Immigration Bill state that landlords must evict tenants who are illegally residing in the UK. Failure to do so could lead to fines of at least £3,000, or even a five year prison sentence for repeat offenders.
This proposed legislation is part of the Government’s response to ongoing immigration problems, as recently highlighted by the issues at the Channel Tunnel border crossing in Calais.
Lorry drivers are already subject to stringent penalties should they be found guilty of bringing someone into the country illegally, and these new proposals allow for further policing of migration once people have already settled in the UK.
Under the new proposals, landlords must carry out a full check of a migrant’s identity and their right to reside in the UK, prior to granting them a tenancy for a period of up to 7 years. This also includes undertaking arrangements such as assured shorthold tenancies with prospective tenants.
However, the proposals are not merely restricted to new tenancies. Landlords will also be responsible for checking the status of any existing tenants within their properties.
If, after carrying out the required checks on an existing tenant, it is found that one or more are found to be residing in the country illegally, they will have to evict the tenant(s) from the property.
The existing process for evicting a tenant requires a court order for possession of the property, followed by a bailiff order should they remain in the property after the period on the possession order has expired.
As you can imagine, this process can take a considerable amount of time. Therefore, a court order will not be required if you need to evict a tenant on the grounds that they have no legal right to reside in the UK.
Whilst this will streamline the eviction process in these circumstances, what is as yet unclear in the proposals is how these evictions will be funded. It has been suggested that the Government foot the bill or at least contribute to the costs of eviction, but no concrete proposals have been made at this stage.
A trial period for the new legislation has been taking place in the Midlands for several months now, and it is highly likely that this Bill will become law in the near future.
If you are a landlord and you have concerns as to how this proposed legislation might affect you, or if you have any other landlord related issue, please feel free to contact us on 01323 434416, where our litigation team will be more than happy to assist you with any queries.