Guidance

Ending a tenancy due to immigration status

Information about ending a tenancy if you know or have reasonable cause to believe that someone living in your rented property in England is not allowed to rent due to their immigration status.

If you know or have reasonable cause to believe that someone living in your property in England is not allowed to rent due to their immigration status (‘disqualified from renting’), you have a range of options to end your tenancy with them. This guidance applies to both tenancies and other letting arrangements.

It is an offence to rent property to someone if you know or have reasonable cause to believe they are disqualified from renting due to their immigration status. You could face an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 5 years.

You may be able to establish a defence against this offence if you take reasonable steps within a reasonable period of time to end the tenancy agreement.

Ending a tenancy: your options

The following options may be available to you to end a tenancy with a disqualified person:

  • if multiple people live in the property and some are disqualified and others are not, you can agree with the disqualified person(s) that they will leave the property - if they are a tenant you can consider reassigning the tenancy to one or more remaining non-disqualified occupiers
  • arrange the surrender of the tenancy by mutual agreement
  • rely on a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person to begin the process to recover vacant possession - the steps you should take depend on whether this names all occupiers or some of the occupiers
  • take other steps to recover vacant possession, depending on the kind of tenancy

This guidance will help you to understand your rights and responsibilities to:

Using a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person

The Home Office may send you a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person to tell you that someone living in your property is disqualified from renting. You need to keep this document somewhere safe as you may need to show it your tenants or to the courts.

If you have received a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person, it shows that you have immigration grounds for ending the tenancy. In certain circumstances, the Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person may allow you to end a tenancy with a disqualified person without a court order.

The Home Office will also inform the person(s) named on a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person to tell them it has been sent. If a person believes that they’ve been named in error they should contact the Home Office.

They can do this through the team dealing with their case, or their reporting centre, or by calling the immigration public enquiry line on 0300 1232241.

Once you have acted on a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person, let the Home Office know when a disqualified person has left your property.

Using a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person when it names all the occupiers

If you have received a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person which names all the occupiers in your property (or the sole occupier if there is only one), or multiple Notices which together name all occupiers, you have a number of options to end the tenancy with the disqualified person:

  • arrange the surrender of the tenancy by mutual agreement
  • serve the appropriate Prescribed Notice on all your tenants, along with copies of the Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person from the Home Office, and give the occupiers at least 28 days’ notice for them to leave

If the occupiers do not leave by the time their notice period expires, you can:

  • rely on the Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person to apply to the district registry of a High Court to ask that High Court enforcement officers evict them - you can do this without a court order for possession under Section 33D of the Immigration Act 2014
  • exclude them from the property peacefully after the notice period has expired, for example by changing the locks

Alternatively, you can take other steps to recover vacant possession. The action you take will depend on the kind of tenancy you have.

Using a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person when it names some of the occupiers

If you have received a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person which names some of the occupiers in your property, but not all of them, you have a number of options to end the tenancy.

You can ask the disqualified person to leave voluntarily if you wish in one of the following ways:

  • agree with the disqualified person that they will leave the property - if they are a tenant you can consider reassigning the tenancy to one or more of the remaining non-disqualified occupiers
  • arrange the surrender of the tenancy by mutual agreement

Alternatively, you can take other steps to recover vacant possession.

Taking other steps to recover possession

If a disqualified person(s) does not leave under any of the routes described above, you can take other steps to recover vacant possession. The action you take will depend on the kind of tenancy you have. Most tenancies in England are Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST).

If the tenancy is an Assured Tenancy or an AST, you have 2 options.

If the fixed term of an AST has already expired, you can serve a Section 21 Notice giving the appropriate amount of notice. After the notice period has expired you can apply to the courts for a possession order.

Alternatively, you can give 14 days’ notice to your occupiers under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 using a Section 8 Notice, relying on ground 7B. You can do this whether or not the fixed term has expired. If the occupiers have not left the property after that notice period has expired you can apply to the court for a mandatory possession order, relying on ground 7B. The court will either grant this order or may use discretion to order a transfer of the tenancy to the occupiers that are not disqualified from renting.

If the tenancy is a Rent Act 1977 tenancy (that is, it started before 15 January 1989), you can apply to the court for a possession order relying upon the immigration status of the disqualified person, under case 10A of Schedule 15 of the Rent Act 1977.

If the tenancy is not an assured tenancy, an AST or subject to the Rent Act 1977, you can end it in reliance on the implied term inserted by section 33E of the Immigration Act 2014, by applying to the court for a possession order. You can do this if the fixed term has ended, or you have ended the tenancy during the fixed term, and the disqualified person has not left the property after you have given them notice as required under the terms of the tenancy.

Tell the Home Office that a disqualified person has left your property

Let the Home Office know when a disqualified person has left your property after you have acted on a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person. The Home Office will then update their records.

Request a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person

If you know or have reasonable cause to believe that you are renting to someone who is disqualified from renting, you can request a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person if the Home Office has not sent you one.

You can also make this request if you have received a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person for some occupiers, and you have reasonable cause to believe that other occupiers are also disqualified from renting. If all occupiers are then named on a Notice, or multiple Notices, you can rely on the Notice(s) to bring the tenancy to an end without a court order.

Check if a person is still disqualified from renting

If you have already received a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person you may wish to check that the person is still disqualified from renting before you use it to recover vacant possession. You may wish to do this if some time has passed since it was issued and you want to use it now.

Carry out right to rent checks on new tenants

In order to avoid renting property in the future to someone who is disqualified from renting, you should check that someone can legally rent a residential property before you rent to them under the right to rent scheme.

If a person living in your property has failed a follow-up right to rent check you need to make a report to the Home Office.

Further advice

Landlords and occupiers can seek legal advice from solicitors, housing advice centres or the Citizens Advice.

If you need to apply to a court, you can find your most suitable court using the court finder.

Landlords can call the landlord’s helpline for general information about ending a tenancy with a disqualified person. The helpline cannot talk about individual cases.

Landlord’s helpline

0300 069 9799
Monday to Thursday 9am to 4:45pm
Friday 9am to 4:30pm

Published 1 December 2016