The Immigration Bill contains a number of measures to deal with illegal immigration but the key proposal from the point of view of landlords, is that it will become illegal (subject to certain exceptions) to grant an illegal immigrant a periodic tenancy, a tenancy with a term of less than 21 years or a licence of a lodging arrangement. This imposes a duty on landlords to take reasonable steps to ensure that the tenant is lawfully in the UK. However, Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlord’s Association, has today warned that Mark Harper’s resignation has highlighted just why landlords are “rightly nervous” about the new immigration laws being introduced.
Requirements for Private Landlords to Verify Immigration Status
The UK government’s idea is to make it compulsory for private landlords (or letting agents) to check whether a tenant’s migration status is valid via various documents before they rent their property to them – in a similar way companies have to make checks on prospective employees. Landlords and lettings agents will need to retain records of these checks.
Critics of the proposed legislation believe that checking immigration status of prospective tenants is not a simple or straightforward matter. For example, difficulties will inevitably arise in cases where individuals still have historic outstanding applications, where the Home Office has their documentation, as will be the case when people make valid extension or leave to remain applications and do not have biometric cards or where individuals have biometric cards but a decision on their application has not been made so it is not possible to ascertain what leave they may be entitled to from the card.
Statistics: 1 in 5 Landlords Confident in Ability to Conduct Checks Correctly
Research conducted by the Association of Residential Landlords shows that only one in five landlords feel confident in their ability to conduct the checks required by the proposed law, correctly. Speaking on this matter, Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association released a statement on NLA’s website:
“Landlords are rightly nervous about having the responsibility for verifying an individual’s right to remain within the UK thrust upon them, and this unfortunate situation demonstrates exactly why that is. Whether Mark Harper would or would not have fallen foul of his own policy, he is right to say that, as the Immigration Minister, he should hold himself to a higher standard.
If he could not reach the right conclusion on an individual’s immigration status, even after months immersed in the detail, what chance do landlords have of getting it right, especially when they’ll need to verify their tenants’ status regularly? You simply couldn’t make it up.
The NLA said from the start that the system must be simple, straightforward and easy for landlords to use and understand. The Government must look again at what it is asking and give some serious reassurance to landlords across the UK that they won’t be punitively penalised should they find themselves in a similar situation of doing almost nothing wrong.”
Legal Advice for Illegal Migrants/Overstayers in the UK
Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. If you have received correspondence from Capita, it is advisable that you seek immediate legal advice before enforcement action is taken against you by the Home Office.
Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options of regularising your stay.