Right to Rent fines "to be more than tripled" for landlords who rent their properties to 'illegal migrants'

The Judge Is Obliged To Pay A Fine Or Penalty 2022 08 01 01 49 11 Utc

Described as "the biggest shakeup of civil penalties since 2014 the fine per occupier rises from £1000 to "up to £10,000 per occupier" for a first offence.

With regard to lodgers, a landlord's fine will rise from £80 per lodger to up to £5000 per lodger for a first offence. For repeat breaches of the right to rent rules, the fine per lodger rises from £500 to up to £10,000 and, per occupier, from £3000 to up to £20,000. The higher civil penalty levels for landlords will come into force at the start of 2024 alongside increased fine levels for businesses that employ illegal migrants

The Home Office says that, since the start of 2018 almost 5000 civil penalties (amounting to over £88 million) for such breaches have been served on employers whilst over 320 have been served on landlords amounting to £215,500. The department also says "We have already arrested more people in 2023 than during the whole of 2022."

The Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick MP, is quoted as saying that making it harder for illegal migrants "to work and operate in the UK is vital to deterring dangerous, unnecessary small boat crossings. Unscrupulous landlords and employers who allow illegal working and renting enable the business model of the evil people smugglers to continue .... There is no excuse for not conducting the appropriate checks ...."

Meanwhile, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has pointed out that the substantial rise in the monetary level of potential fines means that "prospective tenants who cannot easily prove their right to rent - for example those without a passport or driving licence - will find it even harder to find somewhere to live" and highlighted that current census figures show that 8 million people classed as being a usual resident in the UK don't have a passport.

The NRLA CEO, Ben Beadle, said "The announcement is little more than a gimmick .... Rather than tackle the root causes of illegal immigration into the UK, the Government is deflecting from the real issues and doing responsible landlords a great disservice by confusing them with criminals harbouring illegal immigrants."

Other organisations, such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), point out that right to rent checks, as part of the so called 'hostile environment', do cause discrimination against minority groups and cite the Court of Appeal (in a 2020 case that has since gone to the European Court of Human Right) as thinking that right to rent rules meant that "it could take black people, ethnic minorities and migrants up to twice as long to find a property to rent as a white British person." This was because, according to the JCWI, landlords would be more likely "to take the low-risk option" of simply opting to rent only to white British tenants with passports.

For its part, the Government says that the code of practice that it has published, for landlords carrying out rent to rent checks, will lessen the risk, for both landlords and prospective tenants, of discrimination taking place.

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