The complexity of the Government’s plans to turn landlords into border police is seeing lawful tenants being refused housing, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
The warning comes as new research indicates the difficulties caused by the Government’s ‘Right to Rent’ scheme, piloted in the West Midlands.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) concluded that rent to right checks have resulted in discrimination against tenants who appear “foreign”.
It found that 42% of landlords are less likely to consider someone who does not have a British passport, while 27% of landlords are reluctant to engage with those with foreign accents or names.
Writing on the Nearly Legal blog, Giles Peaker, a partner at law firm Anthony Gold, said the results were worse than he expected and described the policy as “a fiasco”.
Under the Government’s plans, private sector landlords are legally responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants. Having been piloted, the Government announced last month that it would be expanded nationwide, with landlords facing up to five years in prison for failure to undertake the right checks.
RLA policy director David Smith said: “Whilst the RLA opposes discrimination against tenants because of their race or nationality, the Government’s plans are causing confusion and anxiety for many landlords.
“If the Government expect landlords to act as border police it should provide the training and material needed to give them the confidence to carry out the checks required of them.
“In the absence of such support, today’s research sadly shows the inevitable consequences of the policy which the RLA has long voiced concerns about. Faced with considerable sanctions, landlords will inevitably play it safe where a tenant’s identity documents are either unclear or simply not known to them.”
The research by the Joint Council comes as the Home Office still has not published its own assessment of the pilot scheme.
“It is concerning that the Government remains committed to rolling out the Right to Rent policy nationwide without first publishing its assessment of the impact it has had in its own pilot area,” said Smith, “Ministers should halt plans to proceed with its rollout to allow time for proper scrutiny and consideration of the impact it is likely to have.”