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Government to crack down on rogue landlords and illegal immigrants

The government has announced plans to prevent illegal immigrants renting properties.  It will also crack down on rogue landlords who exploit immigrants and supply them with substandard accommodation.

Ministers say measures in the forthcoming Immigration Bill will enable landlords to evict illegal immigrant tenants more easily, by giving them the means to end a tenancy when a person’s leave to remain in the UK ends - in some circumstances without a court order.

This will be triggered by a notice issued by the Home Office confirming that the tenant no longer has the right to rent in the UK.  The landlord would then be expected to take action to ensure that the illegal immigrant tenant or occupant leaves the property.

In addition, landlords will be required to conduct “right to rent” checks on their tenants’ immigration status before offering a tenancy agreement.  The move follows a successful pilot scheme running in the West Midlands.

There will also be a new criminal offence targeted at unscrupulous landlords and agents who repeatedly fail to conduct the “right to rent” checks or fail to take steps to remove illegal immigrants from their property.

These landlords may face a fine, up to five years’ imprisonment and further sanctions under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Forthcoming legislation will create a blacklist of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents, helping councils to focus their enforcement action on where it is most needed, and keeping track of those who have been convicted of housing offences.

And new measures will prevent a landlord or letting agent from renting out of properties if they are repeat offenders.

Other measures include:

  • a new tougher fit and proper person test for landlords of properties that have to be licenced, to ensure they do not pose a risk to the welfare or safety of tenants
  • extending Rent Repayment Orders so local authorities can claim back rent payments from landlords who abuse the Housing Benefit system by failing to ensure the property is maintained to a good standard
  • enabling local authorities to issue penalty notices for certain civil offences, with the money retained by the council and used for housing purposes
  • permitting the sharing of Tenancy Deposit Protection data to help councils crack down on rogue landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and overcrowded accommodation
  • enabling landlords to recover abandoned properties more quickly without the need to go to court.

We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.