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As a direct access immigration barrister practising in London, I have been following developments in the Government’s immigration policy carefully over the last few weeks. The Home Office recently announced that from 1 February 2016 all private landlords in England will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.

Failure by a landlord to comply with this new scheme, introduced by the Immigration Act 2014 carries a maximum penalty of a £3,000 fine. Moreover, under the Immigration Bill 2015 currently going through Parliament the maximum penalty could be increased to a five-year jail sentence!

The new law will encourages private landlord to check the right of prospective tenants to avoid being hit with a penalty. Landlords will need to keep records of the checks they have undertaken for those people who will occupy their accommodation.

Nevertheless, where there a tenant is the subject of an outstanding application or appeal and the Home Office cannot produce evidence of the tenant’s right to remain, the Landlord will need to check on the tenant’s eligibility for the Right to rent under the Government Scheme using a Home Office reference number.

It is inevitable that many tenants will find themselves in particular difficulty when seeking a property in the private rental sector as landlords are unlikely to be willing to engage with the additional onerous checking procedure.

If you or a family member or a friend are affected by any of the issues raised above please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and my dedicated team in Gray’s Inn London and we will do our utmost to help you with you any immigration advice / problem you may or may not have.

Paul Turner is a highly regarded direct access immigration barrister and is the head of Imperium Chambers, Grays Inn Buildings, Grays Inn, he also practises from Goldsmith Chambers and is a door tenant at 39 Park Square Leeds LS1 2NU and is licensed by the Bar Council to provide advice and representation directly to the public.