Landlords renting to illegal immigrants get new protection

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Landlords will no longer be immediately criminalised for failing to pick up illegal tenants says the RLA, which has campaigned for changes to the government’s right to rent legislation.
Changes to the Immigration Bill will provide protection for landlords who take reasonable steps in an appropriate time frame to terminate tenancies of tenants in the country illegally.


Landlords will no longer be immediately criminalised for failing to pick up illegal tenants following an RLA campaign demanding changes to the Government’s Right to Rent legislation.

Changes to the Immigration Bill will provide protection for landlords who take reasonable steps in an appropriate time frame to terminate tenancies of those living in the country illegally.

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 United Kingdom.

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 and welcomes the Government’s proposals.

Responding to these 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.

“It is also welcome that the Government is willing to look at how electronic information can be better used to provide tenants with the legal information they require. In the 21st Century it is ridiculous that landlords are expected to print so much paper when it can be provided at the simple click of the button.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • Well done RLA – a great result.

    As regards paper, I must admit that when I send people signed tenancy deposit certificates, (and now gas safety + EPC) I already do that electronically – that is to say I sign it and email the scanned version. I always tell the tenant that they have a right to a paper copy if they ask for one and I ask them to confirm that they are happy only to receive the document electronically (if that’s the case). I believe that would be judicially approved given that court papers, for example, can be sent electronically if the recipient consents. Proof of consent is the key.

    If anyone disagrees let me know!

    Of course I completely support the RLA’s approach so that the matter would then be beyond doubt.

  • As a student landlord I am required to:
    a) Check each student’s Right to Rent documents face-to-face in the 28 days prior to the start of the tenancy (many students go abroad during the summer prior to the start of their tenancy)
    b) Often only one student turns up at the check-in. They could then let in the other students in their group, as they arrive over the next month, unknown to the landlord. For large student group houses this can involve checking a further 1, 2, 3 or far more students as they each arrive separately at all times of the day/night/weekend. Assuming you know they have arrived!

    The solution is a simple change to the act. My local university has confused Right to Rent with accreditation. They will only nominate students into THEIR managed privately rented landlord properties, because they want to ensure that their students are only nominated into higher quality properties.

    The Code of Practice states: ‘Residential tenancy agreements are also excluded where a student has been nominated to occupy the accommodation by a higher or further educational institution… Such a nomination could take a variety of forms but will require communication between the institute and the landlord providing confirmation that the student will take up occupation under the residential tenancy agreement.’

    A simple change would help clarify this advice e.g. ‘If a private landlord is renting to student(s) under a residential tenancy agreement, educational institutions MUST, when requested by a private landlord, nominate their students into a private landlord property, regardless of whether it is or is not managed by the educational institution.

    A foreign student is:
    1) Checked by immigration
    2) Checked by the university
    3) Checked by the landlord
    4) Checked by the District Council (Council Tax exemption)

    Rather an over the top checking system? Hopefully the RLA can further campaign to help the private student landlord obtain compulsory nomination from an educational institution into their properties.

  • I did not know that the legal information that we are now required to provide to tenants has to be provided in printed format. We currently provide this information by email to tenants. e.g. The government “How to rent” document is downloaded and forwarded to tenants when a new contract is signed, and they are asked to confirm receipt, by email of course. So apparently according to the current regulations we should print out this vast document and post, and to each tenant on the contract ? Have I got this right ?

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