The Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 8th May focused heavily on immigration. The newly proposed Immigration Bill will aim to prevent immigrants from accessing services which they are not entitled to. It also leans heavily on private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. Failure to do so could result in fines.
Assistant Editor Philip Johnston of The Telegraph raised some valid points in his article The Queen’s Speech: why should landlords have to police our borders?
‘There are two million buy-to-let property owners who will potentially be responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants but it is unclear what they will have to do to ensure they are not prosecuted.
‘Checking passports and immigration papers is all well and good but how do you tell if they are forged? Also, many landlords rely on letting agents to find tenants – will the agents or the owners be held responsible if an illegal immigrant is living in a property? We will need to see the Bill first.’
Hopefully the new Immigration Bill will outline who is responsible and give advice and guidelines to also protect private landlords and letting agents in this matter.
The National Landlords Association also posted a comment from its CEO, Richard Lambert on its website: “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, local authorities must undertake robust, intelligence-led, targeted enforcement, otherwise illegal immigrants who are refused housing by reputable landlords will face homelessness or be pushed straight back into the arms of the criminals who deliberately exploit vulnerable people”.
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