house analysisThe latest Immigration Bill is continuing to work its way through the Commons and House of Lords. The Bill will introduce tough new criminal sanctions for Landlords and their Agents under the right to rent rules. At present Landlords and Agents face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant where the right to rent rules have not been followed. However, the new law makes it a criminal offence (attracting a custodial sentence of up to 5 years or criminal fines) to rent out to a tenant who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status.

Following lobbying of the government from various interest groups the Bill has been amended and now includes a new defence for Landlords (although not their agents). Landlords will now be protected from prosecution where:

  1. They can show that they have taken reasonable steps to terminate the tenancy;
  2. Those steps were taken within a reasonable period of time following the Landlord first becoming aware, or having reasonable cause to be aware, that the premises were being occupied by a tenant without the right to rent.

The Bill also confirms that new guidance will be published to clarify what are considered ‘reasonable steps’ and what will be a ‘reasonable period of time’. Courts will have to take into account this guidance when deciding whether Landlords have made out a defence against prosecution under the new provisions.

The transition of the right to rent scheme from one of imposing civil penalties to criminal prosecution, shows the seriousness with which the government are pursuing their agenda of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for those without immigration status in the UK.

Mark Lilley-Tams, Immigration Lawyer at Paragon Law who provide a service to check tenant’s right to rent, said ‘The concern is that Landlords are getting caught in the firing line as they are being forced to carry out a role of immigration enforcement without having been given any training in the area. Landlords will now be required to familiarise themselves with another set of rules and further guidance published by the government, this time with the risk of criminal prosecution if they get it wrong.’

It is unclear at this stage when the new criminal rules will come into force. At present the Bill only proposes that the new laws will apply within England, although the government will have the discretion to extend them to Scotland and Wales in future.

They say legends from Nottingham wear green tights, but sometimes, very occasionally, they wear red shirts.

Whilst Robin Hood’s outlaws famously lived in trees, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest squad of the late 70’s and 80’s pulled a few up in their epic journey towards being crowned champions of England and Europe as well as seemingly having their own season tickets to play at Wembley finals on a regular basis.

Two players who perhaps define that era more than any others, and for that reason are revered by Forest fans as giants of the game, are John “Robbo” Robertson and Des “you’ll never beat Des Walker” Walker.

On Friday 30 October 2015, Paragon Law was proud to sponsor a table at the “Legendary Evening” within the photo-adorned rooms of the Nottingham Forest Robin Hood Suite to raise funds for the John Van Geest Cancer Research Centre. Following an inspiring talk on the work on the of the Research Centre from Professor Robert Rees we were treated to a full hour of anecdotes from Robbo and Des about their respective careers under “Cloughie” and how the great man had inspired them in different ways and at different times, instilling a mixture of fear, awe and respect in varying measures. In many ways the lessons learnt were applicable to management techniques from all sectors and certainly not limited to football in any way.

With a clear mutual respect between Des and Robbo as well as a shared love of a cigarette or 20, the evening was a great success raising close to £5,000 for the Cancer Research Centre, topped only by seeing Des join the band on stage for a cover of the Bob Marley Classic “Redemption Song” at the end of the night.

And, of course, we couldn’t let the opportunity pass by without us having photographs taken with the undoubted stars of the show, Robbo and Des, as well as another legend; the High Sheriff of Nottingham.

Paragon Law with Nottingham Forest Legends

 

Paragon Law

Paragon Law New Hires And Promotions

 New hires and promotionsjpeg

From L – R:  Emma Okenyi, Poppy Lockwood, Maaria Mahmood, Decla Palmer, Holly Costema, Charlotte Roberts, Kirin Abbas, Emily Bodden-Burton, Martha Kagusuma, Maria Markopoulou, Yingxiang (Jo) Long.

Paragon Law are delighted to announce that Emma Okenyi, Decla Palmer and Karen Rimmer have commenced training contracts at the firm.

Charlotte Roberts and Jo Long have joined the expanding corporate immigration department as legal caseworkers.

Emily Bodden-Burton has passed the Law Society Level 2 immigration law accreditation and has been promoted to a senior caseworker.  Maaria Mahmood has been promoted to legal secretary in the personal immigration department whilst Holly Costema has been promoted from legal secretary to the finance department.

Maria Markopoulou joins Paragon Law as Trainee Operations Manager with a particular interest in human resources management and manages a team including new apprentice administrators, Poppy Lockwood and Martha Kagusuma.

Kirin Abbas, Paragon Law’s Legal Services Director said, “That each of the new recruits were the outstanding candidates during the recruitment process and those that have been promoted have been done so because of their hard work and because of their shared values with the firm”.  She went on to say, “I am particularly delighted with our strong relationship with the 2 universities in Nottingham with 6 of the recruits coming from the Nottingham universities.  We are not only doing our share to recruit talent into Nottingham but also ensuring that it is retained after graduation”.

Human Key - right2rentThe government has announced today that from 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property. This is a further roll-out of the Right to Rent scheme introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, the first phase of which has been piloted in the West Midlands since December 2014. The Home Office have now published their review of the pilot and this can be seen here.

Under Right to Rent, landlords must check identity documents for all new tenants (with some exceptions) including lodgers, take copies and store them for future reference. The Home Office claim that “the scheme has been designed to make it straightforward for people to give evidence of their right to rent and a range of commonly used documents can be used”. Others argue that the range of documents which can be used, alongside their lack of experience in this field, make this a far from straightforward process.

What is certain though, is that the penalties for not complying with these rules can be tough. Currently civil fines up to £3,000 per tenant are in place and the Immigration Bill 2015-2016, which is currently before Parliament, proposes criminal sanctions including prison for those who breach the rules.

Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire claims:

The government’s new Immigration Bill builds on the reforms in last year’s Act, making it harder for people to live and work in the UK illegally. The Bill proposes new measures to make it easier for landlords to evict illegal tenants as well as a new criminal offence targeted at unscrupulous landlords who repeatedly fail to carry out right to rent checks.”

In response Mark Lilley-Tams, an immigration law solicitor at Paragon Law, said:Mark Lilley-Tams

“Evidencing the right to be in the UK is a difficult process given the wide array of different documents available to prove this and landlords are generally not experts on immigration law. Delays in proving the right to rent can be expensive and time consuming for landlords and that is before you factor in the risk of civil fines, imprisonment and even uncapped discrimination claims if they make a mistake or fail to correctly store the documents they rely upon.

To assist landlords and letting agents we have introduced our Right2Rent service which allows us to take on legal responsibility for carrying out these checks and storing documentation. The feedback we have from the pilot area is that landlords really do not feel comfortable with this added responsibility of carrying out immigration checks and the threat of criminal sanctions will not make this burden any easier.”

The Right to Rent scheme was given legal status by the Immigration Act 2014. Some of the additional powers required to toughen up the government’s approach to enforcement of the scheme are within the Immigration Bill which is currently being debated in Parliament. The progress of this bill can be viewed here.

Further information on Paragon Law’s Right2Rent scheme can be seen at www.right2rent.co.uk

Discrimination

 

 

 

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has conducted an independent evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme and has uncovered a number of negative impacts on tenants and landlords as a direct result of the scheme. These include:

 

  • There is evidence that landlords are prepared to discriminate against those with complicated immigration status and those who cannot provide documentation immediately.
  • Many landlords have found the checks confusing and have therefore undertaken them incorrectly.
  • The ‘Code of Practice for Landlords’ and the ‘Code of Practice on Avoiding Discrimination’ are difficult for landlords and agents to understand.

Although these rules are complicated and the risks to landlords are very real, there is help available. Paragon Law’s service for landlords and tenants, known as Right2Rent, can help landlords to navigate through the myriad of Rules and Regulations which are causing such confusion and leading to fines, the risk of imprisonment and discrimination claims. To find out more about the services we can offer landlords and tenants please see the link below.

 

Right2Rent Services for Landlords

Right2rent Services for Tenants

 

or email enquiries@right2rent.co.uk

 

To see the full JCWI report please click here.

Paragon Law lawyers, Mark Lilley-Tams and Stewart MacLachlan, have put together a fantastic article describing the impact of legislative changes on UK immigration detention.

To read this analysis on just one of the many number of national wesbites which are publishing and engaging with their opinions, please follow the link below:

http://www.halsburyslawexchange.co.uk/law-and-the-illegals-reforming-uk-immigration-detention/#comments

To contact either of the authors please email:

markl@paragonlaw.co.uk or stewartm@paragonlaw.co.uk

Nigeria

Paragon Edge brings together leading British niche immigration law firm Paragon Law and Inside Edge a Nigerian based market entry and education specialist.

The partnership’s foundations are a strong, ethical and knowledgeable team comprising of:

Thalej Vasishta, MD, Paragon Law; and

Peter Stephenson, OBE, ex-First Secretary, British High Commission, Nigeria; and

Lebari Ukpong, MD, Inside Edge and ex-Trade Development Manager, British Deputy High Commission, Nigeria.

Peter Stephenson said, “Obtaining a UK visa is not easy and most Nigerian applicants fail because of poor advice and documentation”.

Paragon Law has won multiple accolades for both its legal services and business processes. The firm is ranked in the top tier by the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners Directory to the legal profession, with the latter having described Paragon Law as an immigration law powerhouse, best known for handling complex and high profile cases”.

Thalej Vasishta said, “Once we have given our client an assessment of the merits in making the visa application, the secret of success is then in the preparation of the supporting documents, how this evidence is presented and explained to the visa officers”.

Paragon Edge will provide advice on all areas of UK immigration law be it whether a client wants to invest, trade, set up business, study, visit or join family members in the UK.

Inside Edge offices in Lagos will be the point of contact for Nigerian based clients. The UK team will set the case strategy and will be supported by the Lagos office to prepare documents and coordinate effective communication between the client and Paragon Edge.

Lebari Ukpong said, We are all excited about this partnership particularly as the knowledge and know-how with which we will serve our clients is unparalleled in Nigeria. This service is further enhanced by the fact that our clients will continue to be cared for once they are in the UK through Paragon Law”.

If you require further information or wish to instruct Paragon Edge please get in touch with your Paragon Edge contact in the usual way. Alternatively, email info@inside-edgeconsulting.com.

Contacts

Inside Edge Ltd

  • Suite D26, Dolphin Plaza, Corporation Drive, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria
  • Tel: +234 8035352685 / +234 1 4623411 ext 500
  • E: info@inside-edgeconsulting.com

Paragon Law