Yet another bit of legislation that landlords in England and Wales need to watch out for. The UK parliament is still in the process of debating the Immigration Bill and has recently had a Second Reading in the House of Commons.
How it may affect you as a landlord? In short, the government wants you, the landlord, not to rent the property to people who are here illegally. Sounds as not a bad idea at all... however, it is you, the landlord, who will have to make the checks. Yes, that’s right, you will have to do whatever the government understands to be ‘simple steps’ to ensure that the tenants moving into your property are not here illegally.
It is worth reading the two following transcripts from the debate. Firstly, Home Secretary Theresa May MP:
Many private landlords already make checks, on a tenant's identity and credit status, making it difficult for illegal migrants to rent properties from them. However, not all landlords do it, so we propose to replicate the long-standing requirements for employers to check the immigration status of those they are about to employ.
"We are not asking landlords to become immigration experts. Those who undertake simple steps will have nothing to fear and there will not be a penalty. Rogue landlords will face penalties, hitting them where it hurts-in their wallets. This will make it harder for landlords to house illegal immigrants and harder for illegal immigrants to settle in the UK.
And what Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said:
The measures on landlords take up 16 clauses-a quarter of the Bill. This, it appears, is the Government's flagship policy on tackling illegal immigration. The only trouble is that we have no idea how it is supposed to work. There are more than 400 European identity documents, and the Government have not explained whether private landlords are supposed to know which one is which. There are countless different documents to show that people are entitled to be here. Will private landlords have to know each one? On some figures, nearly one in five usual residents, including British citizens, do not have passports. What will they have to do to rent a flat? When the Home Secretary was asked two weeks ago about how this policy would be implemented, all she could say was "there is a lot of confusion"".