With the ink hardly dry on the 2014 Immigration Act, which is meant to limit access to services, facilities, citizenship, housing and employment by reference to immigration status, the Immigration Bill 2015 amendment, tabled following the Conservative Government’s successful election result, will go further on matters concerning landlords and letting agents.
Landlords in England are likely to be expected to evict tenants who lose the right to live in the UK under new measures to clamp down on illegal immigration. It is suggested they will be able to end tenancies, sometimes without a court order, when asylum requests fail, so ministers have said.
And following a “Right-to-Rent” pilot scheme carried out since last year in the West Midlands, landlords in England will be required to check a migrant’s status in advance of agreeing a lease when the scheme is rolled out nationally, possibly later in 2015 or in 2016. It is said repeat landlord offenders could face up to five years in prison. But critics of the scheme have said it may lead to legitimate UK citizens being refused accommodation and discrimination offences taking place.
Under the proposals for landlords in England, the Home Office would issue a notice when an asylum application fails that confirms the tenant no longer has the right to rent property.
As a member of the Home Office’s Landlords Consultative Panel, ARLA were invited to give their views about the Immigration Bill 2015 – Housing Measures.
These new measures were proposed as a commitment to change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly and also to crack down on unscrupulous landlords.
The panel also comprises representatives from Crisis, the Quality and Human Rights Commission local authorities and education sector.
The Home Office has drafted the Immigration Bill 2015, setting out ways in which landlords can evict tenants who don’t have a right to rent. The Bill builds-on measures that were introduced last year as Part 3 of the Immigration Act 2014. The pilot scheme in the West Midlands is deemed a success by the Home Office, so they are now looking at extending the scheme into a wider area, and eventually it is thought, nationwide. Before this, the panel members, including ARLA, were invited to give their views and highlight any concerns:
The Home Office lists the potential benefits that the scheme will bring as being:
- Making the UK a less attractive draw for illegal immigrants and thus reduce illegal immigration
- Reducing costs to landlords through swifter evictions, in instances without a need to seek recourse to expensive legal procedures;
- Reducing the potential for illegal immigrants to displace lawful residents in the housing market;
- Tackling the financial gains enjoyed by rogue landlords who house illegal immigrants; and
- Better enforcement of housing laws, including landlords licensing and registration requirements where they exist. Joint working can identify and tackle other areas of abuse in housing policy.
Responses were sought from the panel on nine key questions:
1. How do you see the new measures working in practice?
2. How often do you pursue court processes to remove illegal immigrants and do you think the new measures will make it easier to evict an illegal immigrant?
3. How much notice should the landlord be required to provide?
4. What guidance should we offer around protection issues – for both the landlord and the tenants?
5. In your estimate or knowledge, what proportion of evictions currently require court action in the UK?
6. What proportion of tenancies do you estimate may contain a mix of illegal and legal occupants and how can we minimise the impact on tenants who are lawfully in the UK?
7. Do you think these proposals will reduce the costs for landlords of evicting illegal immigrants?
8. Do you have any information about what costs landlords currently face in a year if they try to evict a tenant (court costs, legal fees etc.)? Do you think these measures will result in savings?
9. What other costs or savings to local authorities do you envisage as a result of the new measures?
Read ALAs detailed response here
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) September 29, 2015