Landlords Fury Over Immigration Amendments

Landlords Set To Become UK Border Agency Informants

Landlords Fury Over Immigration Amendments

Landlords Fury Over Immigration Amendments

Private sector landlords are set to become unpaid members of the UK Border Agency as amendments to the UK immigration laws announced in the Queen’s Speech last week are pushed through Parliament

UK landlords will become legally responsible for ensuring that they only let rental properties to people who are allowed to be resident in the UK.

This means that Private Rental Sector (PRS) and social housing landlords will have a responsibility to make sure their tenants are in the country legally, previously the responsibility of civil servants.

The Government estimate that there are over 3 million buy-to-let landlords who own multiple properties in the UK private rented sector and intend to make them responsible for checking the immigration status of all potential tenants, with fines expected to run into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law.

The drafting of the wording used to outline the policy change appears to place responsibility on UK landlords and employers to police the immigration system as unpaid members of the UK Border Agency.

Landlords are being burdened with additional responsibility with no recompense other than the threat of heavy penalties for non compliance. Why should landlords be expected to do the UK Border Agency’s job for them when they are currently being well paid for failing to do the job they are employed by the Government to do?

The new measures are set to be included in an amended Immigration Bill and will limit the ability of European migrants to claim UK benefits and ensure that the right to residence in the UK on the basis of family commitments is not abused by criminal elements.

The UK judicial system will be expected to balance the nature and seriousness of any crimes committed against the right to remain resident in the UK.

Under the intended amendments, temporary migrants will be charged for use of NHS services and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing. Regulations will also be amended to ensure that European immigrants cannot claim benefits for more than six months if they do not actively seek legal employment and prove they have a genuine chance of obtaining work.

The details of how the measures will be implemented are yet to be disclosed but should be out later this year. The plans should also be the subject of a formal consultation in the coming months.

Ministers expect the legal requirements on landlords will affect those letting rooms in houses in multiple occupancy (HMO) properties. However, the measure will be universal and it will be the responsibility of all landlords to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas.

It is as yet not clear how landlords are supposed to verify the authenticity of provided documentation, as employers have discovered to their cost since the previous tightening of employment rules surrounding immigrant workers. Falsified information has no way of being officially checked within a reasonable timescale due to the immigration backlog and relies on the due diligence conducted by the employer to ascertain the true identity of their employees.

The same degree of uncertainty and frustration now looks likely to be shared by all UK private rental sector landlords.

Landlords are being advised by to use professional Tenant Referencing to verify the identity of all tenant applicants

The limit of the financial penalties set to be levied on landlords who fail to comply is also yet to be decided but is expected to be severe and may run into thousands of pounds (GBP).