Wales should resist efforts to roll out plans to turn landlords into immigration police.
That’s the call by the Residential Landlords Association Cymru as new figures show the extent to which landlords are becoming more cautious about renting property to those who cannot easily prove their identity, making it more difficult for the seventeen per cent of British citizens who don’t own a passport to access the housing they need. Many of these are likely to be some of the poorest in society who cannot afford a passport.
Under the Right to Rent scheme in England, landlords are legally required to confirm that prospective tenants have the right to reside and rent property in the UK. Since December 2016 landlords have had the added pressure of criminal sanctions for those found to know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that a tenant does not have the right to rent.
According to a survey by the RLA, the policy has led to forty four per cent of landlords being less likely to rent homes to tenants without a British passport with fifty one per cent less likely to rent a home to someone currently outside of the UK.
With uncertainty still surrounding the status of EU nationals in the UK, twenty two per cent of landlords have said that they are less likely to rent property to nationals from the EU or the European Economic Area.
As the Right to Rent scheme has not yet come into force in Wales, the RLA is calling on all parties to resist its introduction, arguing that the policy creates discrimination and is being used to cover up failings in the UK border forces.
In April, the Welsh Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee expressed concerns about the potential impact of the Right to Rent policy on failed asylum seekers in Wales.
RLA Vice Chairman, Douglas Haig, said:
“These figures show the damage that the right to rent scheme could cause in Wales for those who might have the right to rent property but cannot easily prove their identity.
“The added threat of criminal sanctions is clearly leading many landlords to become even more cautious about who they rent to.
“This is a dangerous and divisive policy that is causing discrimination. Wales needs to resist its implementation here.”