The Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland has spoken out against the Right to Rent scheme which will require landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.
The institute says it is concerned about the impact the Immigration Bill will have on the rental sector and has urged that powers given to landlords to evict tenants who are not legally entitled to live in the UK should not be extended to Scotland.
The call comes after the Scottish government confirmed that the Bill will enable UK ministers to extend the proposed eviction measures to Scotland through secondary legislation.
The institute warns that the Immigration Bill and the eviction powers that come with it risk increasing discrimination and homelessness.
“We have consistently voiced concerns about the potential negative impact of this legislation, particularly for documented migrants seeking to access housing in the private rented sector,” says Annie Mauger, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland.
“We believe it conflicts with the Scottish Government’s objective to promote fairness and equality in Scottish housing policy and to increase security for the growing number of tenants in the private rented sector.”
“The Scottish Parliament must be fully consulted before any moves to extend the proposed eviction measures to Scotland.”
Meanwhile Scottish Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess, has written to the government’s Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, to express her concerns about the Immigration Bill and Right to Rent.
She says that the new scheme, which is yet to be rolled out on a national basis after a pilot scheme in the West Midlands, could push vulnerable migrants towards ‘illegal and unscrupulous landlords’.
“This legislation risks driving vulnerable migrants to rent from landlords who are happy to flout the law. Landlords will also be required to pursue legal proceedings against someone who does not have the right to remain in the UK, which is surely the role of the Home Office and Border Agency, and not private individuals or businesses,” says Burgess.
“The legislation allows for the measures on residential tenancies to be brought into effect in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. I urgently wish to clarify the UK Government’s intentions on this issue and clarify if it intends to introduce the "right to rent" scheme in Scotland even if it is against the will of the Scottish Parliament.”
Lisa Simon, head of lettings at Carter Jonas, urged that the introduction of the Right to Rent scheme is deferred until January 2016.