Landlords or letting agents will face fines of £1,000 for a first offence under government proposals to introduce immigration checks on tenants.
For repeat offenders, fines will triple and those with House of Multiple Occupation licenses may lose them.
Immigration minister Mark Harper said immigrants had helped make Britain a richer and stronger society but it had to be controlled: “This is exactly why we want to introduce penalties for landlords who let property to those with no right to be here. We believe these proposals will hit rogue landlords where it hurts – their pockets.
“At the same time, we do not want to disadvantage legitimate landlords and have devised a system which is effective, while light-touch.”
Landlords are expected to check the immigration status of all adult tenants, including residence permits and immigration stamps for those who are non-EU citizens. Where there is a time limit on a tenant’s permission to live in the UK, the landlord is expected to make further checks annually.
The government has stressed landlords should not make any assumptions about a tenant’s migration status based on their ethnicity, name or accent.
However, landlords may be exempt from paying a penalty if they can show they were genuinely deceived by a sophisticated fraudulent document.
The government’s consultation on the proposals ends on 21 August 2013.
At a glance: Immigration checks
Who is affected?
Landlords, letting agents, those taking in lodgers or providing long-term hotel accommodation
What do landlords need to check?
British citizens: A current passport; a birth certificate plus a national insurance number or driving license; a naturalisation certificate
EU citizens: A passport, national identity card or receipt for UK benefits
Non-EU tenants: A biometric residence permit, a passport with a valid UK immigration stamp (there are exceptions for diplomats and asylum seekers)
What are the penalties?
Landlord who has not received a previous warning: £1,000 per adult illegal migrant
Landlord who has received a previous warning: £3,000 per adult illegal migrant