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New Immigration Act changes eviction procedures for landlords

So far, 2016 has been a bumpy year for landlords, and one of the biggest culprits has been the introduction of the controversial Right to Rent checks.

Right to Rent has changed the way private lettings operate within England, and many landlords and tenants found the changes to the system confusing.

However, despite the regulations only having been in place a couple of months, changes have already been made to the Immigration Act. The new legislation passes more power to landlords, giving them the power to evict tenants who have been found to be in the country illegally.

If none of the tenants have a ‘Right to Rent’

If none of the occupiers in the property have a Right to Rent, the landlord is likely to have a strong ability to evict.

  • The tenant would lose all of their rights under current legislation which protects tenants
  • The landlord can immediately serve a 28-day notice to quit.
  • At the end of that notice period, the landlord can use reasonable force to remove the occupiers, or he can treat the Secretary of State’s notices and the notice to quit together as an order of the High Court
  • A High Court Enforcement Officer can directly remove the occupiers without a Court order.
Whilst there is fear that these changes could have a severe impact on many households, studies by the Home Office suggest that there are few properties that are populated exclusively by tenants without the Right to Rent. Instead, it is suggested that the majority of properties will have a mixture of tenants who are living in the UK legally and illegally. In this instance, the following applies under the new ruling:

If some of the tenants have a ‘Right to Rent’

The new legislation has clarified different methods of eviction processes dependent on different types of tenancy agreements.

If the tenancy is one under the Housing Act 1988, the landlord can use a Section 8 notice to regain possession of a property if they believe that some of the tenants do not have a right to rent:

  • The landlord must issue a notice citing ground 7B, which gives tenant 14 days’ notice of intended possession proceedings
  • After the 14-day period, court proceedings can be taken.
  • If the Court finds that all the tenants have no Right to Rent, possession will be granted in the usual way.
If the property is occupied on a joint tenancy and one or more of the tenants have a Right to Rent, but other tenants or occupiers do not, the procedure is

  • The Court may order that the tenancy is transferred solely to the tenants that do have a right to rent in the UK, and they will take on the agreement for the property.
  • Landlords are only able to go down this route if they are not intending to gain possession of the property via any other option.
  • Most landlords will probably look hard to see if some other ground is also available to them. The transferred tenancy is not a new tenancy and so there will be no new six-month security against service of a section 21 notice for example.
  • However, the legislation does not specify how the deposit is to be dealt with and so it will likely need re-protecting and new prescribed information serving.

It is important to remember that the transferred tenancy would not represent a new tenancy agreement. However, the deposit must be re-secured and the prescribed information reissued within 30 days of the agreement being issued, just as if any reoccurring tenancy agreement were being reissued. Failure to do so means that the tenant would be unable to be served with a Section 21 act on should it be required.

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