Landlords across the UK could be affected by new legislation if the Immigration Act is introduced as expected this autumn.
There has been widespread confusion and concern over the anticipated legislation, which would act as a clampdown on landlords who are letting properties to illegal migrants.
Carole Charge, technical and compliance director at property specialist Leaders, says the imminent legislation should be on the minds of all reputable landlords as they seek to ensure they stay on the right side of the law.
‘It is worth noting that the latest updates suggest the bill might include the creation of a new criminal offence that could see landlords imprisoned for a maximum of five years if they are found to be housing illegal migrants,’ she explains.
‘This makes it essential for landlords to ensure they are operating in line with the regulations.
‘Although a custodial sentence is likely to be reserved for only repeat offenders, it serves as a reminder of the seriousness with which the government is treating the issue.’
Further potential amendments to the Immigration Bill are reported to include the arrival of an effective way for landlords to end tenancies upon discovering a tenant does not have the right to rent and a legal notice the Home Office can use to end a tenancy when it discovers a tenant is not entitled to remain.
Mrs Charge adds: ‘It will not be necessary to go to court to obtain an order for possession in such cases, as the tenancy will no longer be deemed to be an assured shorthold tenancy once a person is found to be an illegal migrant. However, landlords may still wish to use the courts to carry out an eviction.’
One way for landlords concerned about ever-changing letting legislation is to instruct an experienced and professional letting agent to oversee the management and legal compliance of their portfolio.
‘At Leaders, we have always carried out checks on all prospective tenants to ensure they have the correct visa or documentation required to live in the country.
‘With the possible new legislation in mind, this will not change, and – as always – we will adapt our procedures to ensure we fulfil the requirements of any new legislation,’ Carole explains.
‘Any landlord who is concerned they might be affected by letting legislation should talk to us to see how we can help.’
For more information on landlord legislation contact your local Leaders branch or visitleaders.co.uk.