Plans to force landlords to act as border control and potentially be jailed if they house illegal immigrants have met with a mixed reaction from the industry.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) warned the plans could see lawful tenants denied a home, a fear echoed by campaign group Generation Rent.
RLA Chairman, Alan Ward said the RLA supported the crack-down on rogue landlords exploiting illegal immigration, but it wasn’t fair to put all the burden on landlords.
“They are not immigration officers and cannot be expected to readily identify documents and visas with which they are totally unfamiliar and it will require adequate resourcing,” he said, “Given the increased penalties announced today, landlords will err on the side of caution and may deny accommodation to those fully entitled to it.”
Seb Klier, policy manager at Generation Rent, described the policy as “dangerous”.
“The threat of jail will make landlords so risk-averse that tenants who happen to have a foreign-sounding name could find it harder to find a place to live. Linking immigration status to housing is likely to increase discrimination and drive very vulnerable tenants into the hands of criminal landlords,” he said.
However, the Association of Residential Letting Agents, welcomed the plans and supported the proposals in principle.
“The plans will help to weed out the minority of rogue landlords who exploit vulnerable immigrants for their own financial gain and, with the introduction of a new five year imprisonment penalty, will help to deter other such unscrupulous individuals from entering the private rented sector,” said ARLA managing director David Cox.