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RLA submits response to Government’s tenant immigration check consultation

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The Residential Landlords’ Association has submitted its official response to the Government’s consultation on proposals to introduce mandatory tenant immigration checks – opposing the plans as “bureaucratic and overly cumbersome”…

The Residential Landlords’ Association has submitted its official response to the Government’s consultation on proposals to introduce mandatory tenant immigration checks – opposing the plans as “bureaucratic and overly cumbersome”. 

The proposals, if implemented, would mean every landlord would have to undertake identification checks on behalf of the Home Office for every single prospective tenant – at cost to themselves, without support, and under the threat of prosecution if they undertake the work incorrectly.

In its detailed response document, the RLA highlights a number of serious misgivings about the plans:

1. The proposals put the onus on untrained civilians not officially trained staff

The RLA has serious misgivings that the success, or failure, of the proposals depends on untrained British civilians, rather than officially trained UK border agency staff. This is wholly unacceptable.

2. A ‘light touch’ approach is simply an interpretation of the proposals

On initial consideration, the Government’s proposals appear feasible and practical. However, the wording of consultation is far too vague to have any credence.

The RLA is deeply concerned that what appears to be a ‘light touch’ proposal could soon become something more substantial at the behest of political demands for high profile ‘crackdowns’, or the whims of individual border agency officials.

At two consultation meetings with the RLA, UK Border Agency officials were at pains to stress the ‘light touch’ approach envisaged, but such an approach is simply an interpretation of the proposed regulations, and the reality could be a far more draconian system which extends far beyond the remit originally foreseen.

3. The proposals will not be effective

The proposals will not be effective in practice. The proposals have too many holes and anomalies to be of any use for identifying illegal immigrants. For instance, the consultation document fails to answer concerns about sub-letting and landlords’ obligations in regards to sub-tenants.

Furthermore, as the RLA’s consultation survey shows, the scope of checks already being undertaken by landlords means that the intended target for the checks will already be living within the ‘hidden economy’ rather than in bona fide private rented accommodation.

4. The proposals are bureaucratic and overly cumbersome

The ‘light touch’ philosophy of the proposals loses credence when the 404 potential European identity documents that a landlord may need to know are considered. The wildly confusing array of potential documentation that landlords could face will render the process bureaucratic and overly cumbersome.

5. The proposals will lead to increased discrimination

There is no doubt that should the proposals be implemented then they will lead to unintended, but increased, discrimination against migrants, with some landlords refusing to house migrants for fear of falling foul of the new rules.

6. The proposals will lead to further friction in the landlord/agent relationship

The Government has recently proposed the establishment of a redress scheme for letting and management agents, which the RLA welcomes. However, the scheme does not go far enough to address many concerns about the lack of regulation governing the letting and management agent sector.

Landlords, as much as tenants, can fall foul of cowboy agents, and these proposals provide another opportunity for unscrupulous agents to fleece landlords via the implementation of charges for immigration checks and the potential for such checks not to be actually undertaken. The proposals do not make clear where responsibility lies for such checks, where landlords use agents, when border agency staff arrive on the doorstep.

7. The proposals place an additional burden of cost on landlords

Landlords will be expected to undertake immigration checks at cost to themselves, as well as pick up the bill for any potential future legal action that may be taken against them if they fail to undertake their untrained duties correctly.

8. The proposals may also lead to “increased activity in the hidden economy”

The Home Office consultation document admits that one of the effects of the proposals, “…may also be increased activity in the hidden economy.”

Further information
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About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Media and Communications Officer for the RLA. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

10 Comments

  • Whoever wrote this response is using language that I do not think advances our image as a professional organisation. Phrases such as ‘cowboy agents’ and ‘fleece landlords’ appear to me to be journalistic and should not be in a submission to government if we wish to be taken seriously. At first I thought it was simply the reporting to the members that contained these phrases but no they are in paragraph 27 of the RLS’s submission.

    • Rishard,

      I can understand your concern, but these are the types of phrases used across the industry and are not unique to the RLA. Furthermore, we find nothing professional about the practices undertaken by such agents, particularly when RLA members contact us seeking assistance because they have indeed been ‘fleeced’ by ‘cowboy’ agents. As an organisation we oppose the use of the phrase ‘rogue landlords’. We believe that they should be correctly termed ‘criminals’ or ‘criminal landlords’. Therefore, in order to differentiate between good, law abiding agents and the cowboys, maybe we should also call them ‘criminals’ or ‘criminal agents’ instead. Let us know what you think.

      Many thanks,

      RLA

  • Ref Immigration checks.
    Cant see how Gov can ask Landlords to be the regulator for immigration.
    From experience – currently even the police don’t regulate illegal immigrants reported by Landlords nor does the Council

    As the regulatory authorities are not fit for purpose it would behove the Gov to sort out their own regulatory systems and regulatory authorities including the courts to enforce the laws of the land. Unfortunately this is no where near the current reality and that is why corruption thrives.

    Does the Gov provide Landlords insurance for taking on fearfull immigrants who will react if discovered ? And where exactly does the Gov want Landlords to report to – we need to have the tel nos of nearby border agencies as the police don’t deal with this sort of thing unless it is the highway patrol seen on TV

    Please ask the Gov to use common sense re migrants and stop imposing impossible tasks on Landlords. Bad enough that the Courts abuse Landlords and are biased in favour of tenants now we have to deal with border control re immigration.

    Thanks for your efforts but this is a lost cause and is a failure of the regulatory systems from the start that are all NOT FIT for PURPOSE.

    Another issue on systems that are not fit for purpose.
    As a Landlord & leaseholder that observes and is subjected to fraud and corruption everyday by freeholders and their managing agents, why is leasehold fraud and crime ignored by the Regulatory Authorities including the Courts and Police who all advise they cannot deal with leasehold fraud and false accounting by agents and freeholders as it is a CIVIL MATTER for the Courts.

    Leasehold fraud is a crime under the Fraud Act 2006.
    LVTs and the Upper Lands Tribunals Chambers, and the enforcement agencies such as the police and Council etc plus Land Registry all choose to ignore the Statutory Instruments that apply, or say they don’t know apply leaving the leaseholder victims financially damaged and abused by the freeholder/ intermediate landlords & their managing agents fraud & crimes……………………… .

    The basis of this is the failed system of selection of LVT chairman who are selected from local solicitors from local law firms that are inevitably connected by networks of a covert nature which act against the victims of crime and fraud with impunity. Corruption abounds and is never ending with such misconduct………….Been there………. seen it …….and suffered it…………….. . .

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