Immigration Status of Tenants

Proposals to make private landlords responsible for checking the immigrant status of tenants have been slammed by the Residential Landlords’ Association.

The body says the plans could create further friction between landlords and agents.

The RLA said that landlords, as much as tenants, can fall foul of cowboy agents, and that the proposals “provide another opportunity for unscrupulous agents to fleece landlords” via charges for immigration checks and the potential for such checks not to be actually undertaken.

The RLA says: “The proposals do not make clear where responsibility lies for such checks where landlords use agents, when border agency staff arrive on the doorstep.”

In its detailed response document to the Government’s consultation, the RLA also says:

* Landlords will be expected to undertake immigration checks at cost to themselves, as well as pick up the bill for any potential future legal action against them if they fail to undertake their untrained duties correctly.

*The success, or failure, of the proposals depends on untrained British civilians, rather than officially trained UK border agency staff. The RLA describes this as wholly unacceptable.

* On the face of it the Government’s proposals appear feasible. However, the wording of consultation is far too vague to have any credence. The RLA says it is deeply concerned that what appears to be a ‘light touch’ proposal could soon become something more draconian, either at the behest of political demands for high profile ‘crackdowns’ or the whims of individual border agency officials.

Most of all, says the RLA, the proposals will not be effective. It says they have too many holes and anomalies to be of any use for identifying illegal immigrants. For instance, the consultation document fails to answer concerns about sub-letting and landlords’ obligations with regard to sub-tenants.
Furthermore, the intended targets for the checks will already be living within the ‘hidden economy’ rather than in bona fide private rented accommodation.

The RLA also criticises the proposals for being bureaucratic, with no fewer than 404 potential European ID documents that landlords may need to know about, and says the plans would lead to unintended but increased discrimination, with some landlords refusing to house migrants for fear of falling foul of the new rules.