Right to Rent immigration checks by landlords and letting agents are too complicated to become a serious deterrent to stop illegal immigrants finding homes to let, claims a letting agent.
From October, every landlord and letting agent must check a tenant’s right to stay in Britain before renting them a home under new laws aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from staying in the country.
But the agent, Simon Perkins, a partner in PWR Property Consultants, Nottingham, claims visas, passports and permits are even a problem for border agency officials to interpret and are too hard for ordinary landlords and letting agents to understand.
They risk fines of up to several thousand pounds for making mistakes and should not be shouldered with the responsibility of policing immigration for free, argues Perkins.
“There is huge concern against letting agents and landlords, that many will not be equipped to correctly interpret the complex documents that even border officials have difficulties understanding” he said.
“Some cost is also likely to be involved in checking, recording and filing the details and this will fall on property professionals as well.”
The new laws say anyone renting out a home must check the tenant’s Right to Rent.
The rules affect:
- Buy to let and homes in multiple occupation (HMOs) landlords
- Letting agents
- Homeowners taking in lodgers under the Rent A Room Scheme
The government claims access to housing allows illegal immigrants to stay in the country when their visas have expired and that the Right to Rent rules will lead to many leaving Britain.
Online guidance and example documents will be supplied to property professionals to help them check a tenant’s residency status.
The checks must be carried out before a tenant moves into a home.
“Employers have carried out similar checks for some years without any problem and we are merely extending the practice,” said a government spokesman.