Just 31 people have been deported as a result of the Government’s right to rent scheme as it approaches its first anniversary.
New Government figures show that despite 654 people being involved in investigations or named on documents relating to right to rent penalties, only 31 have been forced to leave the country– with 75 landlords hit with civil penalties.
The controversial checks were introduced on February 1st, 2016, following a pilot scheme in the West Midlands and require landlords in England to check prospective tenants have a right to rent in the UK before letting a home to them.
The Government said the scheme, brought in under the Immigration Act 2014, would help build a ‘fairer and more effective’ immigration system.
However, critics say it penalises vulnerable tenants who do not have the required documentation and is an unnecessary burden on the already overregulated PRS.
Landlords struggled to get to grips with the scheme, with 7,806 calls made to the Home Office’s helpline for landlords between July 1st 2015 and June 30th last year.
The figures were revealed in response to Parliamentary Questions submitted by Baroness Lister of Burtersett, following representations from the RLA.
Baroness Lister asked questions about the number of tenants and landlords investigated under right to rent, the number of illegal immigrants discovered and deported and the penalties incurred.
In her official response Baroness Williams said: “From 1 November 2015 to 31 October 2016, 75 initial civil penalties were issued to individual landlords of tenants who do not have the right to rent in the UK.
“As with right to work checks, the right to rent scheme is predicated on checks being carried out by third parties (in this case landlords and lettings agents).
“This means that the majority of illegal migrant prospective tenants will be denied access to the private rented sector as a result of these checks with no intervention by enforcement officers and no reference to the Home Office.
She added: “The Home Office does not hold information about the overall numbers of illegal migrants found in private rented accommodation.
“However our records show that between the start of the scheme and 30 September 2016, 654 individuals were either named on a Civil Penalty Referral Notice served on a landlord, or encountered on an enforcement visit during which such a Notice was served, or encountered as a result of information provided through the Landlords Checking Service, or encountered as a result of other intelligence provided about property let to illegal migrants.
“Of these individuals, 31 were removed from the UK over the same period. Other cases may be being progressed to removal, or have been made subject to reporting restrictions, or have sought to regularise their stay, or have left the UK voluntarily.
The response came after research from the RLA showed that landlords are struggling to get to grips with the rules – with 63% of the 810 landlords surveyed afraid of making a mistake when checking documents.
In the same survey 43% said they were less likely to rent to those without a British passport for fear of getting it wrong.
A range of civil penalties were put in place when the scheme launched, and breaching right to rent rules became a criminal offence on December 1st last year, with those who knowing let to, or fail to move illegal migrants from their property facing up to five years in jail and unlimited fines.
John Stewart, RLA policy manager said: “These rules are an unnecessary burden and stress on landlords who are essentially being asked to act as immigration officers.
“It is also making life much more difficult for the most vulnerable in society who do not have access to the necessary documentation to pass these checks.
“The fact that just 31 people have been deported as a result of these rules demonstrates this scheme is nothing more than more unnecessary bureaucracy for landlords and tenants alike.”
Article Courtesy of: RLA