Following amendments to the Immigration Bill, the Home Office will now issue landlords a notice when an asylum application is declined that requires the landlord to end the tenancy. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines and up to 5 years in prison.
The body that represents landlords, The National Landlords Association (NLA) are shocked by recent reforms placing more onus on landlords, saying that despite a close consultation with the Home Office on clamping down on illegal immigrants, this was the first they had heard about the amendment.
NLA Chief Executive, Richard Lambert said “It is quite surprising that it comes almost out of the blue.”
“You do wonder how much it relates to the Government wanting to be seen to be tough on migration given what’s going on in Calais.”
“I do worry that in the case of an illegal immigrant you possibly have then a despairing person in a desperate situation and that often leads to people doing very desperate things.”
Communities Secretary Greg Clark explained the changes as the government taking a tough stance on immigration, saying "We’ve had a problem for a number of years now where some rogue landlords, giving a bad name to others, specialise in accommodating illegal immigrants, often in very unsafe and unsanitary conditions – cramming people into houses, making it a misery for the lives of their neighbours apart from anything else."
“So it’s right, I think, to send a message that you need to check the credentials of people that you rent to and if you persistently rent to people who you know shouldn’t be here and you make money from that then that should be a criminal offence and you should be punished for it.”
Government to play greater role
Commenting on the announcement from the Government that private landlords will be expected to play a greater role in checking the immigration status of their tenants, Bob Mayho, Principal Policy Officer for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), said “We have fundamental reservations about the Government’s new proposals and question why landlords are being asked do the job of the UK Border Agency in checking the immigration status of their tenants.”
“These proposals raise serious questions about the housing options of legal migrants and the knock-on impacts for hard-pressed local authorities. Migrants are disproportionately dependent on the private rented sector and are already more likely to be exploited by disreputable landlords, many of which are unknown to local authorities.”
“Furthermore, the proposals rely on a high degree of self-enforcement by landlords themselves and on ‘whistle blowing’. Landlords already have to comply with various requirements when they make a letting but many of these are poorly enforced because of the resource constraints on local authorities, alongside the rapid growth of the private rented sector.”