UK landlords face a sharp rise in 'illegal migrant' fines

21 November 2023 | Applicable law: England and Wales | 2 minute read

In the biggest shake up of civil penalties since 2014, the Home Secretary announced on 7 August 2023, that fines for landlords letting property to illegal migrants are to be more than tripled.  

Landlords and right to rent checks

Landlords must conduct a right to rent check to determine whether their tenants can legally rent any residential property in England. All tenants aged 18 or over must be checked, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement; if the tenancy agreement is not in writing; or if there is no tenancy agreement. 

What are the current fines for letting property to illegal migrants? 

The current fines differ depending on whether the person letting the property is deemed as an occupier or a lodger. The current fines for renting property to illegal migrants are:


  • First time breach: £80
  • Repeat breaches: £500


  • First time breach: £1,000
  • Repeat breaches: £3,000

How much will the penalties increase to?

The penalties will be more than tripled and will increase to: 


  • First time breach: £1,000
  • Repeat breaches: £10,000


  • First time breach: £5,000
  • Repeat breaches: £20,000

When will the increased fines be implemented?

The new fines will come into force on 22 January 2024. The Home Office has published new draft Codes of Practice covering the civil penalty scheme for landlords and should be applied to all right to rent checks from 22 January 2024 including where a follow-up check is required to maintain a statutory excuse, even if the initial check was undertaken using a previous version of the code which was current at the time.

It is also important to note that right to rent checks which were carried out in the prescribed manner prior to the new code having effect will be considered by the Secretary of State in line with the version of the code which was current at the time the right to rent check was made. 

Why are the fines increasing? 

The Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick said:

Making it harder for illegal migrants to work and operate in the UK is vital to deterring dangerous, unnecessary small boat crossings. Unscrupulous landlords and employers who allow illegal working and renting enable the business model of the evil people smugglers to continue.

"There is no excuse for not conducting the appropriate checks and those in breach will now face significantly tougher penalties".

Next steps

With the increased penalties set to come in from 22 January 2024, landlords should take this opportunity to ensure that they are up to date with the legal requirements and that the correct checks have been carried out on all tenants. 

For further information as to how we can help please contact your usual Withers contact, call +44 20 7597 6364 or email

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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