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Written by Emma Lunn

The latest research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) reveals that there is unease about the potential responsibilities outlined in the Immigration Bill, even among landlords with considerable experience in the sector.

The Government’s recent Immigration Bill proposes that landlords should be responsible for checking the immigration status of prospective tenants. ARLA’s data shows that over half (55.2%) of landlords are not confident making the checks suggested and one in five (21.8%) did not know if they would be able to make the checks. Only 22.9% said they did feel confident in their ability to conduct the checks. 

This concern comes despite the fact that the majority of landlords are highly experienced and have entered into the lettings sector as a long-term investment. According to ARLA’s latest report, the average landlord is now 54-years-old, and owns a record average of almost nine properties (8.7). This average figure for the number of properties owned is the highest seen since 2004 when comparative ARLA records began.

Landlords are also holding on to their properties for a record amount of time. The average respondent said they believed the life expectancy of their asset was 19.9 years, exceeding the previous peak (19.8 years), recorded in Q4 2012. This longer lifespan of property ownership perhaps accounts for the fact that a significant minority (16%) of landlords still have properties with energy ratings of F or G.

Ian Potter, managing director of ARLA, said: “Checking the immigration status of prospective tenants is a sensitive and potentially lengthy task. It’s perhaps not surprising that even experienced landlords are concerned about exercising these new duties. While landlords recognise a degree of responsibility for this issue, the sheer variety of documentation alone adds a new layer of complexity to the whole process. It is essential that landlords collaborate with the Government where possible to ensure the final Immigration Bill is workable when passed. 

“Our research shows the majority of landlords have invested for the long haul, and are therefore well aware of their existing responsibilities. However I would urge anyone who is seeking expert advice on a new tenancy, is re-letting a property, or is entering the sector for the first time to consult with an ARLA agent. All ARLA licensed agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect all involved parties if things should go wrong.”



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    The Landlord responsibility in the Immigration Bill is yet another pernicious measure against small businesses like my own.
    The responsibility is none other than the UK Government's. If the UK Borders Agency is unfit for purpose (and it has been clearly shown to be so under Labour and now the Coalition Government) then it needs to be put right.

    Landlords could maybe provide useful assistance towards this Governmental function, but could we have more carrot and less stick please?
    The present proposals are a cunning political ploy because for the government it is win - win.
    If unfettered immigration persists Private Landlords will be inundated with penalties. The buck should stop with the government not Private Landlords.
    We are being used as a cash cow. I am already being milked for revenue by Newham Council's Landlord Licensing Scheme and the rogue landlord industry still thrives here despite the great cash windfall they reap from the PRS.
    To put some perspective here; I have plenty of experience of non-UK migrant tenants. I have no problems with them - they are for the most part good tenants. However judge me upon whether I am a responsible landlord not on whether I am better at immigration control than the UK Borders Agency. I strongly resent this government enforcement.
    I'm biting back and Labour, Lib Dems and Tories will have to do without my vote - they are using punitive clenched fist legislation to paper over their own cracks.
    Tony Beasley

    • 19 February 2014 16:50 PM
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    I won't rent to anyone who has not got a British passport. Simple

    • 17 December 2013 20:53 PM
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    It will probably turn out that if we ask all the correct questions - we will be prosicuted under the data protection act. - if we don't - we'll get fined.

    Sounds about right !

    • 17 December 2013 12:44 PM
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