South Africa

Will landlords be locked up for renting to undocumented migrants?

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A person being handcuffed

Landlords are facing an immigration crackdown in South Africa’s most populated province.

Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko recently called on the police to raid properties occupied by undocumented migrants – and to arrest not just the tenants, but also the landlord.

Under the Immigration Act of 2002, it is illegal for anyone to provide accommodation to an illegal foreigner. Along with landlords, estate and rental agents can also fall foul of this law: the Act makes it a criminal offence to “let, sell or in any manner make available any immoveable property in the Republic” to an illegal foreigner. Breaking this law is punishable with a fine or a prison sentence up to 18 months.

How can agents help?

Under the law, ignorance of a foreigner’s undocumented status is no defence if the agent or landlord should reasonably have known it. It’s therefore imperative that agents and landlords check applicants’ immigration status before signing a lease.

Professional rental agents will already carry out extensive checks on applicants’ income, employment status and other relevant factors. Requiring documentary proof of their immigration status before signing a lease will protect both them and their clients from fines, prosecution and reputational damage.

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