The RLA’s successful campaign for amendments to the Immigration Bill has been welcomed, with the association’s response quoted in the House of Lords.
Landlords will no longer be immediately criminalised for failing to pick up illegal tenants following the campaign demanding changes to the Government’s Right to Rent legislation.
Those who take reasonable steps in an appropriate time frame to terminate tenancies of those living in the country illegally will now be protected.
Previously under the Bill, landlords would face immediate criminal sanctions upon discovery that they failed to ensure their tenants had the right to rent property in the UK.
Peers this week concluded the second day of the report stage of the Immigration Bill – including the consideration of the amendments concerning Right to Rent.
Home office Minister Lord Bates quoted from a letter from the RLA during the session – thanking the Government for agreeing to the changes.
He said: “The Government has listened to the concerns about the effect that these provisions could have, which is a fear of prosecution on the part of genuine landlords.
“Government Amendment 62 provides a further defence for landlords who, once they know that they are renting to an illegal immigrant or have reasonable cause to believe that that is the case, take steps to end a tenancy within a reasonable period.
“The amendment also provides that the courts must have regard to any statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State in determining whether the landlord has proved that the defence applies on the balance of probabilities.
“I understand that the Residential Landlords Association warmly welcomes the amendment, so I hope that it offers some reassurance.”
Official guidance on what constitutes ‘reasonable steps’ and what would be considered a ‘reasonable time period’ to terminate the agreement will be released in due course and will give details of different situations in which a landlord may find themselves.
The Government has also agreed to look at changes to regulations to enable landlords to provide information such as tenancy deposit schemes to tenants via email instead of in paper form as is currently required.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has campaigned for both changes. Responding to the announcements, RLA Chairman, Alan Ward said: “The RLA warmly welcomes the Government’s pragmatic changes to its Right to Rent scheme that will provide protection for good landlords from the unintended consequences of the policy.”
The third day of the report stage of the bill will be heard on March 21.