Four landlords and letting agents are fined every week under the government’s controversial Right to Rent laws, according to official statistics.
In the first two years of operation – from March 2016 until the end of March 2018 – the Home Office has revealed civil servants have collected fines of £265,000 from 405 offenders.
The average fine is £654 from each offender – from a scheme that has cost £4.7 million to set-up and administer.
Right to Rent is the law requiring landlords and letting agents to check out the residency status of adult living in a private rented home in a bid to root out illegal immigrants.
The check should be made before a home is let out or when tenant passports or visas expire while they remain tenants.
The legislation has proved controversial because landlords and letting agents are forced to act as immigration officers when renting out homes.
The rules are also blamed for having a role to play in the recent Windrush scandal because immigrants with the right to rent a home may have been refused because the Home Office bungled their residence documents.
Now, Right to Rent is amended so any tenants who can show they have lived in Britain since 1973 are automatically granted the right to rent.
Authorities can issue fines of up to £3,000 per tenant, while those who knowingly lease a property to a disqualified person could face criminal proceedings and up to five years in prison.
Earlier this year, an assessment by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Bolt concluded that Right to Rent had “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance”, while citing figures that showed a fall in the number of voluntary returns from the UK over the period the scheme has been in place.