Landlords in Cornwall risk imprisonment if they fail to carry out thorough immigration status checks on their prospective tenants, a leading local law firm is warning.
Stephens Scown, which is the only law firm in the region to have a specialist immigration team, says the Government is expected to include a new penalty of up to five years in prison for landlords who fail to carry out the necessary ‘right to rent’ checks, while a fine of up to £3k per tenant is also possible.
The changes are likely to be included in the Immigration Bill this autumn.
The move comes following a trial of the landlord checking service in the West Midlands which began in December 2014. Under the trial, landlords have to carry out checks to ensure their tenants are in the UK legally.
Veera Thakur, immigration advisor at Stephens Scown, said: “This represents a potentially major escalation of the immigration issue for landlords.
“We expect the Government to simultaneously extend the checking service beyond the West Midlands to include the whole of England, and to significantly stiffen the penalties that could be imposed by the Home Office including hefty fines and even five years imprisonment in serious cases – this is the same as a fire-arm sentence.
“Cornwall is a popular part of the country for visitors to come and settle in. The new requirements will affect thousands of landlords across the region.”