At the beginning of May the Queen delivered her annual speech laying out the key plans for David Cameron’s coalition government. In it she stated that very soon landlords would become responsible for checking their prospective tenants’ right to live in the UK.
While it hasn’t yet been made clear exactly what landlords will be expected to do, it is highly likely that it will include checking passport and immigration papers. Any landlord caught failing in this task will face fines and/or prosecution under the new government proposals.
Critics say it's a bad idea because:
Hard to implement – Similar schemes, such as the deposit protection scheme, have proved challenging to implement and regulate. Critics suggest that this new scheme will suffer the same problems and will therefore be ineffective at catching illegal immigrants.
Unfair on Landlords – Putting such an onus on landlords is seen by some as unfair. Amateur landlords may not be equipped with the expertise to manage these checks properly and could load them with an additional financial strain.
Hard to Validate; Papers are regularly forged or stolen – Landlords have no training in spotting forged documents and some may even be stolen. Critics have said that in these circumstances it would be highly unfair to penalise landlords.
Tenants may Sublet – It’s a good idea for landlords to check their properties regularly for their own piece of mind. However, the new legislation may force these checks to become a legal requirement to stop subletting to illegal immigrants.
Puts up Obstacles – the government is relying on the private rented sector to deliver affordable housing given the current shortage of affordable housing. Critics say that this new scheme simply puts up more barriers for landlords, further restricting the sector.
But perhaps it’s a good idea…
CEO of the National Landlords Association (NLA), Richard Lambert, has welcomed the plans as a pro-active method of tackling illegal tenancies, saying: “Every landlord should thoroughly reference a tenant prior to offering a tenancy. This is standard best practice which safeguards the landlord’s business.
“Tenant checks should include not only an identity check, as suggested, but also whether the tenant has any County Court Judgments, possible aliases and include references from their employer and a previous landlord. Such checks should highlight any immigration irregularities”
However, Mr. Lambert also warned that local authorities should take “robust, intelligence led enforcement” to ensure that illegal immigrants refused private rental housing aren’t forced into homelessness or driven into the arms of criminal gangs who deliberately exploit vulnerable people.
Tell us what do you think
Use the comments section below to let us know what you think of these new government proposals. Are they fair to landlords? Will they work? Is the right to live in the UK something you as a landlord check anyway?
Tenants – do you feel that this check is fair or does it encroach on your privacy?