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If you are a private sector landlord, you’ll be aware that you have to undertake Right to Rent checks on prospective tenants. You need to do this to make sure a tenant or lodger can legally rent your property. The idea behind the checks is to make sure that properties aren’t let to illegal migrants.

Increase in fines now in force

Back in August 2023, the Home Office announced that fines for letting property to illegal migrants would increase. We can now confirm that this increase came into force on 13th February 2024.

Fines for those who employ people who don’t have the right to work in the UK tripled on the same date. Employers should always conduct Right to Work checks to avoid falling into this trap.

New fines for Right to Rent / Right to Work non-compliance

Under the old regime, fines for letting property to illegal migrants were £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier. These were for a first breach. Repeat breaches were £500 and £3,000 respectively.

These fines have now increased significantly. For a first breach, the new fines are up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier. Repeat breaches will set landlords back up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier.

Employers who hired people illegally used to face fines of £15,000 per worker for a first breach and £20,000 for subsequent ones. These have now risen to £45,000 and £60,000 respectively.

How to avoid penalties

To avoid penalties, you must check a prospective tenant has the right to rent in the UK and a potential employee has the right to work.

For landlords, it’s important to check all prospective tenants aged 18 or over, even if they’re not named on a tenancy agreement. You have to check all tenants as it’s illegal to discriminate against anyone because of where they’re from.

You can find full details of how to do a Right to Rent check on this page. British and Irish citizens can normally prove their right to rent with a passport, Irish passport card or a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen. You can either check their physical documents or use an online identity service provider (IDSP). For non-British or Irish citizens, they can usually prove their right to rent with original immigration documents. You can also check an non-British or Irish person’s applicant’s immigration status online using their share code.

Employers can also check a person’s right to work in the UK in a similar way. The government publishes a helpful guide here.

How are penalties applied?

It’s important to keep records of both Right to Rent and Right to Work checks. If the Home Office believes you are employing or letting a property to an illegal migrant, it will send you a Referral Notice. This will tell you that you’re being considered liable for a penalty. You’ll then get an Information Request. This will ask you for evidence that you are not employing or letting illegally. The Home Office will then decide whether to apply a penalty – and as we’ve seen, these are now substantial.

Keep on top of Right to Rent & Right to Work!

Whether you’re an employer or a landlord, it’s important to make sure you’re compliant with the law. It doesn’t take long to check someone’s right to rent or work in the UK. While employers and landlords are often busy people, it’s not worth risking these new penalties for the sake of a little extra admin.

Landlords. Were you aware of our Platinum Accounting Service with free MTD-compliant software? Learn more about this service here.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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    Avatar for Jon Pryse-Jones
    About Jon Pryse-Jones

    Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

    An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

    Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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