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Right to Rent: Fines Update

Most landlords will already be aware of their obligations to undertake “Right to Rent” checks which are required under the Immigration Act 2014. These checks must be undertaken on every lodger or tenant aged 18 or over to ensure that they are legally entitled to rent property in the UK before they move into a property.

The Code of Practice and Updates on Fines

The government regularly updates its code of practice for landlords as regulations and practices change. The latest version was published In January 2024. 

For landlords the fines will increase as follows:

For landlords with no previous breaches of the code:

  • Previous rate of £80 increased to £5,000 per lodger
  • Previous rate of £1,000 increased to £10,000 per tenant

For landlords with repeat breaches of the code:

  • Previous rate of £500 increased to £10,000 per lodger
  • Previous rate of £3,000 increased to £20,000 per tenant

Landlords should be aware of the updates, and in particular, changes to acceptable documents and the civil penalty rates. Further information can be obtained from the UK Government website (external link).

Section 23 of the 2014 Act relating to landlords, and section 25 relating to agents, allow the Secretary of State to serve a landlord or letting agent with a notice requiring the payment of a penalty of a specified amount where they have let property to a person who does not have the right to rent in respect of a tenancy subject to the Scheme.

Guidance on How to Undertake Right to Rent Checks

We offer detailed guidance on right to rent checks here, along with checklists for landlords and agents.

How the Civil Penalty is Administered

If a landlord or agent acting on the landlord’s behalf is found to be letting to a person who is disqualified from letting by virtue of their immigration status, the landlord will receive a Referral Notice. The Home Office will contact the landlord with an information request, giving them the opportunity to present further information and evidence of a statutory excuse. The Home Office will then review all the evidence available and decide if the landlord is liable for a civil penalty.

If the landlord is liable for a civil penalty, they will receive a Civil Penalty Notice accompanied by a Statement of Case setting out the evidence and the reasons for the decision.

The landlord must pay the civil penalty by the date specified in the Notice. The scheme operates a faster payment option (FPO) that gives the landlord the opportunity to pay the penalty at a 30% reduction if payment is made in full within twenty-one days.

If the landlord is found not liable for a civil penalty, they will be issued with a No-Action Notice and the case will be closed.

Objecting to the Penalty

If the landlord wishes to object to the penalty, they must do so in writing within 28 days of the date specified in the notice, ensuring detailed reasons are given, along with any evidence in support. A landlord may object on one or more of the following grounds:

  • They are not liable to pay the penalty;
  • They have a statutory excuse i.e., they carried out the document checks required;
  • The level of the penalty is too high.

The Home Office will send an Objection Outcome Notice confirming whether the penalty has been cancelled, reduced, or maintained.

Appealing a Penalty

If a landlord’s objection against a civil penalty has determined that they remain liable for that penalty, the landlord may appeal to the County Court if they are still unsatisfied. The landlord must appeal to the court within 28 days of either the date specified in the new Civil Penalty Notice, or the date specified in the Objection Outcome Notice.

Determining Liability and the Penalty Amount

The table below sets out the levels of penalty that can be issued:

Type of TenantPenalty for 1st Breach (within the last 3 years)Penalty for Repeat Breach (within 3 years)

When considering the landlord’s liability for a civil penalty, the Home Office will follow a 3-stage process, as follows.

Stage 1: Does the landlord have a statutory excuse?

The Home Office will determine if the landlord has a statutory excuse. This is addressed in more detail in our guidance (linked to above).

Stage 2: Determining the level of breach

The Home Office will consider whether the landlord has previously been in breach of the scheme.

If the landlord has been issued with a Civil Penalty Notice under the scheme in the last 3 years and exhausted all their objection and appeal rights, the landlord will be subject to a repeat breach penalty among of either of the following:

  • £10,000 per lodger; or
  • £20,000 per tenant.

If the landlord has not previously been in breach of the Scheme, they will be subject to the lower penalty amounts as follows:

  • £5,000 per lodger; or
  • £10,000 per tenant.

Stage 3: The final penalty amount

At Stage 3, the Home Office will consider if the landlord qualifies for a 30% reduction. The faster payment option only applies to landlords who are liable for a first breach penalty (within 3 years) of either £5,000 or £10,000. It only applies where the landlord pays the civil penalty within 21 calendar days of the Civil Penalty Notice being issued. It does not apply where the landlord is given permission by the Home Office’s Shared Service Centre to pay the civil penalty in instalments.

Where the landlord qualifies for the faster payment option, the final penalty amount will be reduced as follows:

  • from £5,000 to £3,500 per lodger; or
  • from £10,000 to £7,000 per tenant.

The 30% reduction will be off the final total amount for which the landlord is liable.

Landlords need to be vigilant when undertaking Right to Rent checks to avoid any penalties.                 

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