The Immigration Act 2016 (the “Act”) came into force on 1 December 2016.

The key amendment which residential landlords and agents should be aware of is the introduction of criminal sanctions.

A landlord will commit a criminal offence and be subject to criminal penalties if:

  • The premises are occupied by an adult who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying premises under a residential tenancy agreement; and
  • The landlord knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the premises are so occupied.

An agent who is responsible for a landlord’s contravention of the Act will also commit an offence if it knew or had reasonable cause to know the landlord would contravene the Act by entering into the residential tenancy agreement in question; and had opportunity to notify the landlord of that fact before the landlord entered into the agreement, but did not do so.

A “post-grant contravention” is also committed if the occupier was originally qualified to occupy the premises but lost the right to do so, continues to occupy and the landlord has reason to believe the occupier is no longer qualified to.

A defence is available if the person charged can prove they took reasonable steps within a reasonable time to terminate the residential tenancy agreement.

The Act also simplifies the landlord’s ability to get possession of premises by introducing a new mandatory ground for possession and a new section 8 notice has been published. It also allows a landlord to evict tenants without a court order if the Secretary of State has given notice that the occupier(s) is disqualified from renting.

See our previous Law Now for further details.