The government has announced that the new Immigration bill will include provisions that will allow landlords to evict certain tenants without the need to first obtain a court order. See the Department for Communities and Local Government Press release here:
The Press release states that measures in the 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.”
The Immigration Act 2014 has already brought in the “Right to Rent” requirements which have been piloted in the West Midlands. In summary, this Act requires private landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants. Landlords who let property to people without the required immigration status which confers the “right to rent” can be fined. So far these requirements are only in force in the pilot areas of Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
Despite concerns raised about the effect of such provisions, particularly the potential for discrimination by landlords wanting to reduce the risk of breaching the complex legislation, the government has now announced its intention to go even further in its attempt to link immigration control and the private rented sector.
Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, most tenants of residential property cannot be evicted from their homes until their landlord obtains a possession order through the county courts. Only then can they apply for a warrant for eviction which the bailiffs will then enforce. There are some specified exceptions such as certain scenarios when the landlord shares the same accommodation with the tenant. Even when these sections apply, the landlord must still give reasonable notice to the tenant and cannot use or threaten violence to gain entry.
This legislation is a key part of housing law in England and Wales, and safeguards tenants from unlawful evictions. The suggestion that tenants with certain immigration status will lose this protection mid-way through a tenancy, would be a significant change to the law and has potentially wide-reaching implication for both landlords and tenants.
The government has yet to announce the details of the proposals, such as the exact circumstances in which the requirement to obtain a court order will be removed or the process the landlord will have to follow instead. However, the risks to tenants and landlords alike of such legislation is not difficult to spot. There is a risk that any tenant without a UK passport will be at higher risk of both discrimination when trying to find somewhere to rent and unlawful eviction once they do. Landlords on the other hand will face the risk of committing a criminal offence if they don’t take steps to remove those without the “right to rent” from their home, placing a huge burden on them particularly taking into account the complexities in Immigration law and determining whether a person does indeed have the right to rent.