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On February 2024, the Home Office fines for employing illegal workers, or renting property to people who are not in the UK legally are to triple. Fines for employers are to rise to a maximum of £60,000 per illegal worker, and landlord fines to £20,000 per illegal tenant. Although fines are easily avoided by running proper identity checks on employees and tenants, the increased level of checking by the Home Office should prompt everyone to make sure their checking complies with the latest legislation.

Rogue Landlords

The government has stated that their reasons for increasing the fines around employing illegal workers or leasing to illegal tenants isn’t about prosecuting people who are trying to do their level best to comply with the legislation. In a press release, they said their main aim is to target the small number of rogue landlords and dodgy employers who turn a blind eye to immigration law and simply don’t care about who they employ. However, when a Home Office inspector arrived at your business or rented property, they don’t know which category you fall into.

Checking Right to Work and Right to Rent

Making sure you are complying with the law is not complicated. The law requires that you firstly check the documents of people working for you or renting property from you and have a way of recording what you have seen and when. The key document you need to determine Right to Work or Rent is a passport. If someone has a British passport this makes things very straightforward as it guarantees they have the right to live and work in the UK.

If someone has a passport issued by another country, then things get a little more complicated. Their right to work or rent property will depend on their immigration status in the UK, and what sort of visa they have. The immigration system is complex, with many different visas issued for work or study, and someone’s status can also change over time. The Home Office runs helplines for landlords or employers who are unsure about how to check someone’s status. It is always better to call for advice rather than to assume someone is legally in the UK to be later be hit by a fine.

Filing and Review

The other part of the law requires employers and landlords or their agents to keep records of the checks they have done. This involves recording the date the checks were done and listing the documents which were seen. The law doesn’t specify how you keep your records, so every business and landlord are free to come up with whatever system works. It is also important to keep in mind that the status of workers and tenants may change over time – student visas come to an end, a work visa expires and so on. One of the main reasons for fines is that checks are not repeated regularly enough, and a landlord or business is fined for someone who was legal in the past, but no longer meets that requirement.