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Landlords attack Government’s immigration proposals

Written by RLA

The Residential Landlords’ Association is today criticising the Government for grandstanding on immigration…

The Residential Landlords’ Association is today criticising the Government for grandstanding on immigration.

Under proposals announced in the Queen’s Speech the Government is expecting private sector landlords to check that all their tenants are legally allowed in the country with likely fines for landlords found to be housing those not allowed to remain in the United Kingdom.

The Residential Landlords’ Association is warning that whilst immigration rules need to be enforced effectively, the reality is that tenants living in the UK legally will see rents rise as letting agents ramp up fees to cover the costs of further checks on tenants and to cover the greater risks new laws will bring. Such costs will inevitably be borne by tenants paying rents.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Richard Jones, the RLA’s Policy Director, said: “Whilst the RLA fully supports measures to ensure everyone in the UK is legally allowed to be here, today’s announcement smacks of political posturing rather than a seriously thought through policy. The proposal will not work in practice. Employers have been required to make similar checks but it has made no real difference to the numbers of illegal immigrants in the Country.

“For a Government committed to reducing the burden of regulation it is ironic that they are now seeking to impose a significant regulatory burden on landlords making them scapegoats for the UK Border Agency’s failings.”

Richard continued, “Greater risks will be associated with renting a property out at just the time that we need to make investment in the sector far more attractive.

“We will study the details of the proposals carefully and seek to have input during the passage of the Bill to ensure that the imposition on landlords and costs for tenants are minimised.”

About the author



The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.


  • It will just mean landlords will not take the chance and will discriminate. It may sound harsh but this should not be a landlords responsibility. I can see the sector shrinking as fast as its grown if the endless new red tape does not end. Will we end up with a national register, and selective licences, and an immigration duty? It could just go on and on.

  • If employers have to check the immigration status of job applicants why not landlords too?

    Why not wait to hear how this might work rather than condemn the initiative before we know what is will involve.

    If we are to reduce the flow of illegal immigration landlords should play their part.

    • Why do we have & pay the border agency if the landlord needs to do their work for them
      Perhaps landlords should man the airports & seaports to carry out passport checks!

  • Are you kidding me? More admin for us reputable landlords who have enough to deal with. What’s next? A chargeable training course charged by the UK Borders Agency for the Landlords to carry out their jobs and pay for the privilege. Wonderful!

  • Will this do anything at all to curb slum landlords packing in immigrants into beds in sheds? No it won’t. It will just add more to the burden for landlords who try to do the right thing.

  • I am already highly regulated as a HMO Landlord and many, if not most of my tenants are from other countries. Each time I take a new tenant, I have a mass of paperwork to complete and endless checks to make. I dread the thought of more red tape, when will the Government give us a break?

  • Another stab in the back for Landlords. Earlier in the year it was the cut in Council Tax exemption from 6 months to one month (not to mention the retrospective they also applied and the fact they ignored theior own consultation results!) and now thery want us to act as Immigration Boarder Officers to spot illegal immigrants. All the Govermnet is doing is passing the buck…again! We are not qualified detetctives! No wonder people are voting UKIP!

  • If I am a born and bred uk citizen who has never had a passport or a credit card, why should I have to prove anything in order to rent a house? There is no official mechanism in existence for me to show who I am, so how can I even begin to prove it?!

  • I think it’s perfectly reasonable for landlords to be required to check that their tenants are legally allowed to be in the UK. The only way unwanted immigration can be checked is by all businesses and landlords and banks etc. do their bit to keep UK populated by approved immigrants only.

    • Ok John but we need to know the mechanism. What is sufficient evidence. How will we know its real and not forged. Having seen the border agency tv program they are not always sure. Think I will only let to those from eur countries until we leave that is!

  • For someone born and bred in this country is a British Passport sufficient? For someone who isn’t or who has no British passport precisely what else is required?
    When will the landlords, the agents and the prospective tenants know what documents are considered necessary for the check to be completed? If the Government can’t tell us, then I trust they can explain clearly how they expect this to work.

  • Presumably the same onus will be placed on NHS GP / Dentist services etc and schools where immigrants intend to have their children educated? Why stop there – I suggest that everybody in every walk of life should be expected to query the residency rights of any other individual at any time during the normal course of the day – this will nicely bring out the fascist lurking in all of us.

  • I don’t really understand why some landlords – supported by the RLA – are objecting to this proposal. It’s in a landlord’s own interests to ensure before taking on a tenant that there is no possibility of him/her being whisked away by the Border Agency during the tenancy. In the case of a shared tenancy contract, it’s also in the interests of the other tenants that this should not happen. We have always established the immigration status of our non-UK citizen tenants by asking to see – and taking a copy of – their passport photo page, visa (if applicable) and University course acceptance letter (if applicable). If a potential tenant is out of the country and in contact via e-mail, we require scanned copies of the documents before accepting the applicant as a tenant. This has not been a problem. The government’s objective is to put in place further measures to prevent illegal immigration – and to try to deal to the ‘beds in sheds’ scandals which tend to put all landlords – good or bad – in a poor light in the eyes of the public. Good landlords should be undertaking these checks irrespective of any government legislation.

  • With forgeries becoming increasingly difficult to detect I assume documentation will follow suit making the task of detection more and more difficult. I expect a landlord will have to consult with government agencies to obtain verification that a potential tenant is a legal immigrant, if this is the case how long will the verification take? Any delay will incur costs for the landlord with empty properties waiting for tenants, so I guess a fair bet would be that landlords will not want a non UK person as a tenant. Where does that lead to? Well again I would assume that landlords will rather go for a “white” potential client with a UK accent…..which will probably lead to accusations of being a racist. All presumption at the moment I know but you can bet that unless an extremely system is established, again more cost, we will see something along these lines emerging. At the moment the suggested system of landlords taking responsibility seems to be at best foolish.

  • I can’t see what all the fuss is about!

    Surely, as a responsible landlord, it should be my job to make sure that the prospective tenant has a valid passport from a recognised country from which the tenant would have the right of abode in the UK (plus I can keep up to date with any changing arrangements between the UK and all the countries in the world, easy peasy). I can easily check to see if it is a forgery or not(?!) as I will be familiar with ALL the passports in the world (obviously!) and if its period of validity extends past the end date of the contract. Plus I can easily become au fait with all the visa requirements for every country as well. And, if some poor schumck wants to extend their rental contract, I can also recheck all the above for renewals!

    If a tenant just so happens to be from the UK – or from a country where entrance into the UK by alternative documentation such as National Identity Card is acceptable – and so may not have a passport, I can become expert in detecting forgeries in whatever other documentation will be deemed acceptable, plus have an up-to-date list of these alternative acceptable documents. As well as check on their periods of validity (to ensure they extend beyond the expiry of the contract). Oh, and do the same for contract renewals as well.

    When it comes to corporate lets, it doesn’t matter if it’s up to the company to choose whoever it is they want to live in the rental property (as is the current law), we can amend the law so that I, the landlord, have the final say (after I’ve carried out all the above checks, obviously). Or, I could even perform checks on the actual LIMITED COMPANNY, so they can be vetted as well. Don’t quite know what those checks will be yet, but I’m sure it’s all been worked out.

    And if, as may happen every once in a while, though I take a very dim view on it myself, a tenant may want to move a girlfriend or boyfriend in with them, cos they like the place so much, if the new partner fails any of the checks, then I can refuse them accommodation and the now partner-less formerly good tenant will have to like it or hit the kerb! Which I’m sure will go down well.

    So, all in all, I can’t see what the fuss is about! I would, however, you know, for posterity, like to see the fag packet on the back of which these proposals were worked out in detail…

  • if someone is dark skinned and speaks with a “funny” accent, should i ask them to prove they are allowed to be here? equally if someone is white and speaks “normal” English should I ask them if they are allowed to be here? I foresee enormous problems here and no doubt will upset many prospective tenants on the way.

  • What next? Hard working people to monitor the borders for this government, it really getting crazy in this country.
    I am a manager throught interviews we caught few potential staff with forged passport when we contacted the border agency were not interested !

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