LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Lib Dems block immigration check plans

Lib Dems block immigration check plans

Lettings agents and landlords will not be forced to check whether potential tenants are legally allowed to be in the country after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg blocked the legislation. 

Conservative home secretary Theresa May went on national television yesterday (October 10th) to reveal further details of the scheme, which she had intended to introduce next year. 

However, Liberal Democrats leader Mr Clegg stepped in to prevent the proposals going ahead. As a result, it will now take place in just one pilot area, with a nationwide roll-out postponed until after the 2015 general election. 

The plans had been widely criticised, with concerns the additional costs would be passed onto tenants and the prospect of illegal immigrants simply being forced towards unscrupulous figures within the industry, rather than out of the country. 

As part of the draft immigration bill, published yesterday, banks would have been obliged to check new customers against a database of known illegal immigrants, while landlords and lettings agents would have faced fines of up to £3,000 for failing to adequately assess whether their tenants are legally permitted to be in the UK. 

Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, told Sky News: "Obviously landlords cannot replace the Border Agency and they shouldn't be asked to do their job.

"Existing referencing will pick up immigration issues anyway, but if the government wants to put something in place beyond that, the important thing is that it is simple and straightforward to use."

Campaigners, MPs and those within the private rented sector voiced fierce opposition to the proposals, which may well have led to situations where landlords and lettings agents opted to be over-cautions, potentially leading to accusations of discrimination. 

With more than 400 different types of formal identity documents available to citizens within the European Union alone, critics noted that it would be virtually impossible for property owners to adequately familiarise themselves with the various acceptable forms of documentation.