It was announced on Wednesday during the Queen’s Speech that landlords will soon have to personally vet all their potential tenants before letting them a property in order to make sure that they are in the country legally. The plan is part of the new Immigration Bill which was created in order to tackle not only how long and what rights legal immigrants have, but also to start decreasing the amount of people that are in the UK illegally.
However, landlords and letting agents are not happy with the new scheme, especially as many have stated that they don’t even know where they would begin when it comes to vetting their tenants. In general, most landlords do a basic background check or ask for references when letting a property to a new tenant, however under the new rules they will have to do much more or face a fine of what will apparently be thousands of pounds. Some landlords have also said that it is not part of their job to check whether people are in the country legally, and that this should be done by the Boarder Agency or the police.
Furthermore, vetting every single new tenant will not only take up a large amount of each landlord’s time, but more than likely also end up costing them money. There have been concerns that landlord insurance quotes will also increase due to the fact that being a landlord is now even more risky, and that means they will need even more protection. Some landlords are also worried about what will happen if they are tricked by a tenant into believing false documents, and what powers will be given to the police when it comes to raiding properties.
Writing for The Telegraph, Philip Johnston also argued that there were already laws in place that were supposed to reduce the amount of illegal immigrants in the UK, such as the 2002 Nationality Immigration and Asylum Bill which states that anyone who hires an illegal immigrant can be fined or jailed. Mr Johnston therefore asks: “If the powers are already there why will this Bill make a difference? Or are we seeing legislation used, not for the first time, as a political signal rather than a practical measure that will make a real difference?”