From 1st December, private landlords in the West Midlands will be trialling the governments ‘right to rent’ scheme in an attempt to combat illegal immigration. The Home Office has announced private landlords across Birmingham and the Black Country will face fines of up to £3,000 if they fail to check on the immigration status of their new tenants. But will it be a welcome failure or success?
The government’s overall objective seeks to reduce the number of illegal immigrants living in the UK. If the government decides that the trial scheme is a success in the West Midlands, this could have implications for landlords and tenants across the country. As a result, there could be thousands of tenants that do not have the ‘right to rent’ which could be putting landlords and letting agents in danger of falling fowl of the law.
Online letting firm Lets Rent carried out a survey of 708 private landlords in England and Wales to explore their attitudes towards such policy changes, if they were to be rolled out across the country.
The survey found that roughly 70% of landlords said they did not want the added responsibility to check the immigration statuses as they felt this responsibility should be placed on governmental agencies and not landlords. 82% of landlords also felt they would have difficulty grasping their responsibilities, with complex guidelines and the inability to understand the validity of certain documents cited as the main two worries.
Of the 708 participants surveyed, 43 were based in the West Midlands (where the trial is taking place) but only 20 (46%) had heard of the scheme, which raises questions about the government’s ability to ensure awareness amongst landlords in the area.
One landlord stated: ‘Whilst I appreciate the government is taking steps to tackle what I feel is a problem for the UK, I don’t feel it is fair to place this responsibility on landlords and fine them if they get this wrong. I’m not quite sure even the government understands all of it’s immigration policies properly, so how is the average landlord supposed to?’
However, some landlords agreed with the changes. A landlord from the Walsall area commented: ‘I feel it is a necessary step, and won’t take much time out of my day. I’m willing to do my bit to combat illegal immigrants for the sake of a bit of paperwork’
Oliver Fitzpatrick, Director of Lets Rent commented: ‘The government is attempting to make living in the UK difficult for an illegal immigrant, which of course should be the case. However, we hope that the lack of guidance, training, and publicity that the government has produced for this particular scheme is not an indication of how this would be rolled out nationally. Landlords are clearly both ill-informed and confused over their responsibilities, and could be fined because of the government’s failure to educate”.
Article Courtesy of: LetsRent©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.