Immigration Act 2016
Criminal Offence for ignoring Right to Rent scheme
The Immigration Act 2014 introduced the Right to Rent scheme, which prohibited illegal immigrant from accessing the Private Rented Sector. This became law in England on the 1st February 2016. Landlords are also legally obliged to carry out follow up checks if someone has a time-limited right to rent and are responsible for reporting those without right to rent to the Home Office. Landlords who fail to make the right checks are liable for a civil penalty of up to £3000 per illegal migrant tenant £3,000.
The Immigration Act 2016 will from the 1st December make it a criminal offence not to comply with Right to rent legislation. This act will enable landlords to evict illegal tenants more easily and in some circumstances without a court order. Landlords will obtain a notice issued by the Home Office which confirms that the tenant is disqualified from renting in the UK as a result of their immigration status. On receipt of this, the landlord is expected to take action to ensure the illegal migrant leaves the property.
The act also introduces four new criminal offences to target unscrupulous landlords and agents who consistently flout the law. These landlords or agents may face an unlimited fine, up to five years imprisonment or both in addition to a £3,000 civil penalty per occupier who is an illegal over-stayer.
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TPO offers new guidance for agents entering properties
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has issued new guidance for agents concerning obtaining express consent from a tenant before accessing a property.
“Access to a property may be required by you, or an authorised third party on behalf of the landlord (e.g. a surveyor, builder, tradesman etc) for the purpose of viewing the condition, state of repair and/or to fulfil related statutory obligations and/or to carry out repairs. If you hold the key but are not able to accompany that person, the tenant must be given the appropriate minimum notice of 24 hours or that prescribed by law, of the appointment (unless agreed otherwise with the tenant beforehand), except in cases of genuine emergency. Notwithstanding providing the tenant with reasonable notice to access a property, express consent from the tenant to do so should be obtained.”
Therefore, an agent must provide written confirmation of their request to access the property to the tenant. Within that written request, the tenant must be asked for their confirmation of whether or not access is acceptable. The request must be issued in good time to allow the tenant a reasonable period of time to respond the minimum period being 24 hours.
However if a tenant does not respond to an access request and provided the tenant has been given reasonable time to respond, the agent is entitled to make the assumption that access is permitted. However, the tenant must be given the opportunity to refuse access, if they so wish.
The change was made to the TPO Lettings Code following a number of cases whereby agents were giving tenants the minimum 24 hours’ notice, often sent by text, before entering the property (sometimes to the surprise of the tenant). Whilst legal, this was clearly not good practice and not the manner in which we would expect agents, who had voluntarily chosen to follow the TPO Code, to behave.
To view the latest versions of all the Codes, please click HERE
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