LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Home Secretary meets with referencing firm over tackling immigration

Home Secretary meets with referencing firm over tackling immigration

The home secretary, Theresa May, has met with FCC Paragon, a service provider to the PRS, to revisit their proposal on tackling immigration in the UK, and listen to their concerns over the ‘Right to Rent’ pilot scheme which is due to commence in the West Midlands from 1 December 2014.

As part of their tenant referencing business, FCC Paragon has come across numerous fraudulent applications. Four years ago, after identifying growing concerns surrounding the verification of foreign nationals, FCC Paragon approached the Government offering to trial a free service which would check tenants’ validity, ensuring they were entitled to be working and living in the UK.

At the time, their proposal was rejected as initiatives were already in place, but now it seems the Government is keen to explore the possibility of working with experts in this field to tackle the mounting problem.

Janie Gaston, operations director at FCC Paragon, said: “Tenant referencing is our core business and our experience in this field enables us to clearly identify what measures should be implemented to really make a difference, without putting the onus on landlords and letting agents. We are grateful that we have finally had the opportunity to air our thoughts directly with the home secretary, who was encouraged by the depth of research we have carried out, the results of our initial trial and the ideas we presented that would support the Government in creating a fairer system.”

Ahead of the first pilot scheme on immigration rights, which will make landlords in the West Midlands responsible for checking the immigration status of prospective tenants, Gaston expressed her reservations to May. 

She said: “We feel this is going to be very onerous for landlords and letting agents alike, and is unlikely to tackle immigration problems as it appears to be a very complicated and time consuming process, which we feel many landlords will struggle to understand. The directions are not clear enough and appear somewhat contradictory.”

Following the meeting at FCC Paragon’s Portsmouth offices, which was also attended by Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, May has requested that FCC Paragon submit a revised proposal directly to her for review, along with their comments on the existing pilot scheme in the West Midlands.