Posts with tag: tenant immigration checks

Landlords and Agents Must Evict Illegal Immigrant Tenants Within 28 Days

A new Immigration Bill has been published, making it a criminal offence for landlords and letting agents to breach Right to Rent rules.

A property lawyer has described the Bill as “hateful bilge”.

The new Bill is an extension of the Immigration Act 2014, which made it a civil offence if landlords and agents failed to conduct checks on the immigration status of tenants. The regime was part of the pilot Right to Rent scheme in the West Midlands, which began in December 2014. The Government has still not analysed the trial.

The 2015 Bill, due for a second reading on 13th October, makes it a criminal offence to allow a private rental sector property to be occupied “by an adult who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying premises under a residential tenancy agreement.”1

Landlords and Agents Must Evict Illegal Immigrant Tenants Within 28 Days

Landlords and Agents Must Evict Illegal Immigrant Tenants Within 28 Days

The landlord or agent will also be committing an offence if they know or have reason to know that the tenant does not have a right to rent in the UK, for example, because the Secretary of State has served a notice on the landlord or agent, stating that the property is occupied by an illegal immigrant.

The maximum penalty for landlords and agents is five years imprisonment.

The Bill also includes new rules on eviction.

When the Secretary of State serves a notice saying that the home is occupied by someone with no right to live there, the landlord or agent can serve the tenant a notice giving them 28 days to leave. This notice has the enforceable status of one issued by the High Court.

It is not clear what would happen if a tenant given 28 days notice to leave vanishes without a trace.

The Scottish Government has criticised the new Bill, despite it not applying to Scotland.

Scottish Social Justice Secretary, Alex Neil, says it will exacerbate the current immigrant crisis and “increase levels of homelessness and discriminate against migrants rather than reduce immigration”.

He also hit out at Westminster, saying it rushed through the legislation: “I am disappointed to see the inhumane measures set out in the Immigration Bill and I am deeply concerned that if approved, they will encourage people to discriminate against this vulnerable group.

“These harsh restrictions around rent and evictions would make it even tougher for migrants to access housing.

“Where they have accommodation, they may be too frightened to keep in contact with the Home Office and authorities if they believe there is a threat of eviction.

“The UK Government’s approach, coinciding with its delayed response to the worst humanitarian crisis facing Europe since the Second World War, shows an unbelievable lack of compassion and understanding of people’s basic rights.

“We will do all we can to stand against the proposals in the Bill.”1

Lawyers have also opposed the Bill.

On the Nearly Legal blog, written by a barrister, some of the measures included are called “truly remarkable”2. The blog questions what will happen if the Secretary of State serves an erroneous notice.



Right to Rent Pilot Described as a Fiasco

A leading property lawyer has described the right to rent pilot scheme as a “fiasco” and said it was “even worse than I expected.”

Giles Peaker responded to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) report on the pilot scheme that has been trialled in the West Midlands since December 2014.

Right to Rent Pilot Described as a Fiasco

Right to Rent Pilot Described as a Fiasco

Peaker, a partner at law firm Anthony Gold, said the policy “is going to have to take some quite astonishing justification in any Home Office evaluation to take forward nationally. It is, on a purely practical basis, a fiasco.”1

He voiced his opinions on the Almost Legal website.

The Home Office has not yet released its own evaluation of the pilot, but has stated that the scheme will be rolled out nationally, with legislation likely to be announced shortly, and enacted and implemented quickly.

It will require all landlords or their letting agents to conduct immigration checks on prospective tenants and to carry out further checks on tenants whose immigration status may subsequently change.

Landlords and agents that do not undertake checks face criminal sanctions, including up to five years in prison. In the trial, landlords have been able to fully delegate the responsibility to their agents.

The JCWI report revealed that 69% of landlords do not believe they should have to conduct checks and 77% are not in favour of a national roll out.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has also given its view.

It said that the pilot scheme was not a success and that the JCWI’s report had highlighted “clear dangers that it won’t do what the Government wants – deter ‘illegal’ immigrants – but it may well do something no one wants; make it harder for people with every right to be in the UK to find a decent home.”1




The JCWI report can be found here:


Tenants Being Rejected by Right to Rent Scheme

Published On: September 4, 2015 at 8:43 am


Categories: Landlord News

Tags: ,,,

Landlords and letting agents are rejecting lawful prospective tenants in the pilot scheme of right to rent checks due to the unfamiliarity of some of the documents that must be checked.

A briefing note yesterday from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants describes the scheme as “dangerous.”

It believes that landlords and agents should not be treated as border control and that confusion over immigration documents is causing discrimination against renters.

It also warns that this confusion is not just within the pilot area, the West Midlands, but more widespread.

Under the right to rent scheme, which is due to be rolled out nationally soon, agents and landlords must check the immigration status of all prospective tenants, or face penalties, including up to five years in prison.

The briefing note has been published after two surveys, one for landlords and agents, and the other for tenants and lodgers. Of 76 responses, 31 were from agents and landlords.

Tenants Being Rejected by Right to Rent Scheme

Tenants Being Rejected by Right to Rent Scheme

The council also received further evidence, including 17 instances of discrimination and unfair refusal of tenancies and conducted a mystery shopping exercise.

One of the council’s main concerns is that checks are not being taken consistently, but are “instead directed at certain individuals who appear as if they may be a migrant.”

Half of respondents that were refused a tenancy felt that discrimination was a factor.

The council also noted widespread ignorance. Just 19% of agents and landlords nationwide were even aware of right to rent.

The briefing note highlights the fact that some landlords and agents are charging fees for conducting the checks and sometimes they pass on the cost of potential fines to the tenant through increased rent or deposits.

One third of respondents from the pilot area had been charged a handling fee of over £50 and 20% were charged more than £100.

The council states that right to rent “encourages discrimination and will create a hostile environment for all migrants and ethnic minorities in the UK seeking to access the private rental market.”

It continues: “Due to the current developments in Calais, we are now seeing a knee-jerk reaction from our Government who want to appear even tougher on illegal immigration through extending a dangerous scheme without proper consideration.”1

Responding to the briefing note, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) blames “the complexity of the Government’s plans to turn landlords into border police.”

It calls for the national roll out of the scheme to be delayed until the Government has published its own assessment of the pilot scheme in the West Midlands.

David Smith, the RLA Policy Director, says: “Whilst the RLA opposes discrimination against tenants because of their race or nationality, the Government’s plans are causing confusion and anxiety.

“If the Government expects landlords and agents to act as border police it should provide the training and material needed to give them the confidence to carry out the checks required of them.

“In the absence of such support, this research sadly shows the inevitable consequences of the policy, which the RLA has long voiced concerns about.

“Faced with considerable sanctions, landlords will inevitably play it safe where a tenant’s identity documents are either unclear or simply not known to them.”

The Home Office has still not published its own assessment of the pilot scheme.

Smith continues: “It is concerning that the Government remains committed to rolling out the right to rent policy nationwide without first publishing its assessment of the impact it has had in its own pilot area.

“Ministers should halt plans to proceed with its roll out to allow time for proper scrutiny and consideration of the impact it is likely to have.”1 


Landlords and Agents Warned About Rise in Fake Passports

Published On: September 3, 2015 at 5:46 pm


Categories: Landlord News

Tags: ,,,

Landlords and Agents Warned About Rise in Fake Passports

Landlords and Agents Warned About Rise in Fake Passports

Landlords and letting agents have been warned that there has been a rise in fake passports, after a tenant vetting firm saw the number of prospective renters with false documentation soar.

Managing Director of Keysafe Tenant Vetting, Gareth Fowler, says that his firm is now witnessing hopeful tenants with fake passports on “almost a daily basis” compared to only “once or twice a month” a year or two ago.

Under the Immigration Act 2014, landlords or their agents could have fines or prison sentences imposed upon them if they do not conduct right to rent checks or if their tenants are found to have fake documents.

Fowler states that the main worry is the clear rise in fake UK passports. He says this is not just seen in the lower end of the market, but many false documents are from renters willing to pay “£8,000 or £9,000 a month in Mayfair.”

He warns that the forged passports often appear legitimate to the untrained eye and are even sometimes accompanied by convincing employment references from phony limited companies.

He adds: “In particular, the old letting agent myth of ‘if they’re from the UK they’re okay’ needs to be put to rest. The same care must be taken when vetting each and every applicant.”1 













Firm Launches App that Checks Immigration Status in 2 Seconds

A lettings industry supplier is launching an app that checks the immigration status of tenants in just two seconds.

The app will be available on smartphones and tablets, and uses optical recognition software as it scans documentation.

The managing director of UKtenantdata, Tony Williams, says that the system will make checking immigration statuses as easy as sending a text.

Firm Launches App that Checks Immigration Status in 2 Seconds

Firm Launches App that Checks Immigration Status in 2 Seconds

The service will be free to agents that already use UKtenantdata’s tenant screening plan and as a stand-alone option for other agents.

The date of the nationwide roll out of the right to rent scheme is yet to be confirmed, as well as other details.

However, Williams states: “It is a fact. Letting agents and landlords are now unpaid immigration officers.

“We thought: If you have to do the job, we may as well make it an easy one.”

The app will be launched ahead of the national roll out and can read worldwide passports, EU ID cards, UK visas and UK drivers’ licenses, extracting the relevant information.

The data is then passed onto servers for validation and is then placed in the prospective tenant’s reference file.

The software will highlight any visas that are about to expire, allowing the agent time to update the system with new documents. If a hopeful tenant does not provide the new documentation, the app gives an option to report to border control.

If the agent is subject to an audit, the app confirms that checks have been made.

UKtenantdata has made a £250,000 investment in the optical recognition software.

Williams says that the app will initially be available on iOS, but will be developed for Android users and other platforms later this year.

He continues: “Current beta testing for the new system has exceeded our expectations and we believe letting specialists will be astounded at what it can do for their business.

“Back in 1998, the overseas landlord scheme came into play; no one really paid that much attention until the audit letters started to come in from HMRC. The result – fines all round!

“Non-compliance of Immigration Act 2014 won’t be any different and will, if ignored, potentially put agencies out of business, or worse, the principals in prison.”1 

Visit the firm’s website here: