The UK Government’s decision to fine landlords who rent homes to illegal immigrants will lead to a rise in discrimination, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has warned.
Last week Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire announced that the new measure in the Immigration Act will be first launched in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton as part of a phased introduction across the country.
Under the new measure to be rolled out on 1st December 2014, landlords will face a fine of up to £3,000 if they if they rent homes to illegal immigrants.
The new law gives private landlords the right to check if their prospective tenants are in the country legally.
“The choice of Birmingham and surrounding areas is politically insensitive at a time of increasing Islamophobia thanks to the actions of and reactions to ISIS currently hogging the new headlines,” JCWI said.
The new penalties will be also applied to tenants sub-letting rooms in their homes, JCWI said, noting that many people could be unwittingly exposing themselves to harsh fines.
“We predict a rise in discrimination. Landlords will be issued with a list of eight different documents acceptable to prove someone is eligible to rent a property here, and a list of 10 different documents from which two must be produced by a tenant,” JCWI said. “Landlords will be expected to check a tenant’s eligibility every 12 months. In the Home Office’s Code of Practice there appears to be no guidance on letting properties to people who are legally in the UK but whose documents are held by the Home Office as they process visas. In many cases, landlords will be tempted to go for the easy option and let properties to white British people instead of taking any perceived risk.”
Saira Grant, Legal & Policy Director of JCWI said: “We have pointed out the dangers of this scheme to the Government, it is a charter for racism and discrimination, advertent and inadvertent. That they are determined to press ahead with it at all is to their shame. Most undocumented migrants aren’t in the rental market, they live with friends or family. This is red tape and bureaucracy from the Party that declares itself the enemy of precisely that. Landlords should not be doing the job of immigration officials. This scheme should be scrapped before any more money is wasted on it and families become homeless as a result of misunderstood legal obligations.”