Ed Jacobs is back with his news and views on central Government discussions and proposals for the private rented sector and private landlords. This edition of Ed’s thoughts focus primarily on the topic and role of immigration proposals. Stay informed and be sure to feed back. Read on…
With just over three months to go until the end of the parliamentary year, the House of Lords has begun consideration of the Immigration Bill which includes a proposal to make landlords liable for checking the immigration status of their tenants.
Home office minister Lord Taylor acknowledged that this “is a significant change to the law” but noted that “the same was true when employers were required to start doing similar checks some years ago”.
Responding, shadow Home Office minister Baroness Smith accused the Government of outsourcing its responsibilities for illegal immigration to landlords.
She went on to outline her concerns about how easy it would be for untrained landlords to make an inadvertent mistake and quoted from the RLA’s briefing which noted that to avoid accusations of discrimination, many landlords would simply check the identity documents of all their tenants, irrespective of nationality.
Lord Best also cited the RLA in support of his fears about the way the scheme would operate and argued that individual landlords simply do not have the capacity or understanding needed to achieve the Government’s ambitions. He called for a “proper pilot” of the proposals to understand how, and if, it works.
Concerns were also expressed about the proposals by Lord Bilimoria, who declared the landlord measure as simply “wrong”, and by Liberal Democrat, Lord Clement-Jones, who used the RLA’s briefing to outline his fears about the impact the measures would have on access to private rented housing by international students.
Significantly, the former leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, also had concerns in relation to landlords. “Some of these will be people who have got a small house where they are letting out rooms. It is extremely unfair to put them in a position where they have to police the immigration service and check what these documents are.
“Will the minister say how this is going to be dealt with? Short of ID cards, which I do not want, I cannot see how you can have an effective system in those circumstances.”
The measures were dubbed as being “fundamentally flawed” by crossbencher Baroness Prashar.
It is likely that the Bill, and in particular those sections on landlords checking their tenants, will face more detailed and potentially hostile scrutiny at the committee stage in the House of Lords.
While the Government has committed to piloting the proposal first, peers from all sides of the House were clear in their concerns about measures being unworkable. In light of this, as this article was prepared, the RLA was preparing to meet with Lord Taylor to discuss its continued issues about the Bill as currently drafted.
Meanwhile, the Government’s efforts to root out criminal landlords have stepped up a gear with a consultation on how best to tackle bad landlords without negatively impacting on the good ones.
While the RLA will be making a submission, members themselves are encouraged to take part. For more information on how to take part, please, click here.
- Read more RLA news stories on immigration
- Read more from Ed Jacobs
- RLA member survey: improving evictions, your views!