Immigrants to the UK may face additional administration fees from landlords and letting agents when renting property from September, as a controversial 'right to rent' scheme is rolled out across the country.
Fines for renting to illegal immigrants
The scheme, which is currently being tested in some areas of the UK, will compel landlords to check the immigration status of all their tenants – and promises hefty fines if they fail to do so.If they fail to make the proper checks, landlords will be fined up to £3000 for each tenant who has no right to rent in the UK; such as undocumented migrants.
Scheme unfair to immigrants
Critics fear that the scheme will make landlords more likely to discriminate against those who appear to be from outside of the UK, and will make it harder and more expensive for immigrants to rent property.
A survey by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which has been running since December 2014, found that tenants in the areas where the scheme is being tested are being charged an average of £100 in extra administration fees by landlords and letting agents. The survey also noted that landlords are routinely turning down people with 'foreign accents', according to leading landlords publication PropertyWire.
Residential Landlords Association vice-chair Chris Town said: 'This is a toothless tiger. All it will mean is an applicant who is rejected because they don't have the right documents will disappear, potentially into the black market and end up in dangerous properties.This will hinder legitimate landlords who would be able to provide safe homes.'
Campaign groups call on government to 'scrap' immigrant right to rent scheme
In a letter to the Telegraph newspaper in December 2014, campaigners from the Green Party, Migrants Rights Network, Generation Rent, and several other organisations said that the scheme "will drive discrimination, encouraging otherwise fair-minded landlords and agents to let to white tenants with British-sounding names, just to reduce the likelihood of additional bureaucracy from the Home Office."
The letter also predicts that rather than preventing undocumented migrants from renting a home, it will simply force them into insecure and dangerous housing: "It's hard to see how this policy will prevent a single undocumented immigrant from finding a home; though even if it did, it's morally questionable to deny anyone such a basic human need as shelter. Rather, it will see already vulnerable tenants forced into illegal tenancies and poor housing conditions."
"Surely the political parties have to scrap this nonsense?"