Britons without a passport are struggling to rent due to immigration checks introduced for earlier this year, according to a new survey.
The study by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) found that 43% of private landlords are less likely to let to those without a UK passport following the introduction of the Right to Rent scheme, introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 as part of the government’s reforms to build a fairer and more effective immigration system.
From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England have been required to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.
Under existing rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.
The law means that private landlords, including those who sub-let or take in lodgers, must now check the right of prospective tenants to be in the country to avoid being hit with a penalty.
This means that the 17% of UK residents who do not have a passport could be wrongly denied access to privately rented accommodation.
The research also found that 63% of landlords are concerned that they will make a mistake or be caught out by forged documents and be unfairly fined. Only 13% reported having found the Home Office’s Advice Line helpful to them.
David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA said: “These survey findings confirm our fears. Those who cannot easily prove their right to live in the UK, whether they are British or not, are finding it harder to access homes to rent. This is particularly concerning for those UK nationals without a passport, many of them the most vulnerable in society.
“Landlords are quite reasonably becoming ultra-cautious to avoid tough criminal sanctions and need reassurance that they will not be punished when they get fooled by false documents. They are not trained immigration officers.”
The RLA has called for clarity about the status of EU nationals living in Britain to prevent landlords from becoming nervous about continuing to rent to them if their legal position changes.
The RLA also wants to see clear guidance from the director of public prosecutions that landlords who try to do the right thing, but get caught by forged documents, will not face sanctions.