Landlords could face prison, if they do not carry out Right to Rent checks

Landlords could now face prison, if they do not carry out Right to Rent checks with tenants.

The Right to Rent rules were first introduced in 2014, as part of the Immigration Act, and implemented in February 2016, requiring landlords to obtain prove from their tenants that they have the right to reside in the UK. Following concern from buy-to-let investors and landlords, the government confirmed that landlords would not be punished for failing to catch illegal tenants, if they took reasonable steps to end any tenancies to illegal immigrants in an appropriate time frame. Fines could face those leasing homes without their tenants having the right to rent of up to £3,000.

From 1st December 2016, though, new leglisation has tightened the rules surrounding Right to Rent, introducing harsher penalties for those found to be breaching the rules. Under the Immigration Act 2016, landlords could still be charged with a civil penalty and fined, but a new set of offences have been introduced, which could lead to prosecution of landlords in either the magistrates or crown court. The former can see prison sentences imparted of up to 12 months, as well as a potentially unlimited fine, whilethe latter can carry an unlimited fine, but also a prison sentence of up to five years.

The Home Office has insisted that prosecutions will only focus on landlords who repeatedly break the Right to Rent regulations, but the pressure upon landlords and letting agents to carry out the checks is greater than ever.