Landlords and agents ‘should not face jail if they innocently let to illegal immigrants’

Landlords and agents should not face the prospect of up to five years in prison if, through no fault of their own, they let to a tenant who should not be in this country.

The call is due to come from peers Lord Cathcart and Lord Howard of Rising in the form of an amendment to the Immigration Bill.

They argue that agents and landlords should not face criminal penalties if they are innocently caught out by the same fraudulent papers that got illegal immigrants past border agency officials in the first place.

When Right to Rent is implemented across England from February 1, there will only be civil penalties under the Immigration Act 2014

However, the Immigration Bill 2015 going through Parliament will bring in criminal sanctions – fines or imprisonment.

The amendment says that the following should be added to the Bill: “A person does not commit an offence … where they are proceeding diligently to evict any adult who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying the property of which they are a landlord.”

The amendment is expected to be debated this week or next. While it only seems to relate to fast-track evictions of illegal tenants, the peers are expected to present fuller arguments.

The amendment is fully supported by both ARLA and the Residential Landlords Association.

Lord Cathcart has also proposed an additional amendment, which says that landlords and agents should not be seen as having committed an offence if they have taken reasonable steps to verify the tenant’s identity and immigration status.

The amendments have been filed amid concerns that the new Bill, as currently drafted, states that when a landlord or agent is notified by the Home Office that the tenant has no right to rent, the landlord or agent is immediately deemed to have committed a criminal offence.

Yet the Bill also allows 28 days for the illegal tenant to be evicted.

There are also concerns that the landlord or agent could have been caught out by forged documents that enabled the illegal immigrant to get into the country in the first place.

Those same forged papers will have got past immigration officers, who are not threatened with jail.

A significant further concern is that landlords and agents would be criminalised prior to, or even without, any prosecution.


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  1. MF

    Well that’s a shock. I thought jail was only for repeat offenders. The ‘rogue’ element.

    If it’s jail for ‘innocent mistakes’, expect plenty of discrimination from landlords and agents.

    After all, best advice from an agent to their client landlord has to be aimed at a trouble-free tenancy.

  2. Will

    You can’t believe any of them, James Brokenshire said the legislation was going to be light touch and no criminal penalties. Mind you he is a politician and you can not believe a word any politician tells you.  They are the true ROGUES of society with their house flipping, duck houses and suspect expense accounts.

  3. JWVW

    This government is slowly changing into the most unConservative Government we have ever seen. Promises of less red tape for business have been replaced by reams of new red tape and new unfair property taxes.

  4. jad

    Well, Well, Well…………. jail if you make an innocent mistake doing the job H.M. Border Force Should, but cannot do !!  Mainly I guess because the Home Secretary cut their numbers ridiculously low and destroyed the staff moral completely.  I for one am so ashamed of Voting Conservative all my life.  Maybe we should bring in Mandatory Prison Sentences for all M.P.’s and Peers caught fiddling their expenses or ‘Thieving’ for want of a more exact term and also that horrible term ‘Kiddy Fiddling’  This government needs putting into check and reminding them that without the PRS Landlord their immigration ignorance would soon be seen to be a bigger nightmare than it is !!


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