The UK Government’s Right to Rent scheme is likely to make it difficult for all migrants to find accommodation.
Yesterday the government introduced the Right to Rent scheme requiring landlords to carry out checks on all new adult tenants to make sure they have the right to rent property.
Landlords who fail to carry out checks risk a potential penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.
But a survey of landlords carried out by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has revealed that the landlords are confused about how to carry out the checks.
More than 90% of landlords say they have not received any information from the government on their new legal duty to check the immigration status of their tenants.
With at least 72% of landlords saying they do not understand their obligations under the policy, many are unlikely to rent to those who cannot easily prove their right of residency.
According to the survey, 44% of landlords will only rent to those with documents that are familiar to them, a move that will cause serious problems for the estimated 17% of UK nationals without a passport.
Dr David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA said: “The Government argues that it’s ‘Right to Rent’ plans form part of a package to make the UK a more hostile environment for illegal immigrants. The evidence shows that it is creating a more hostile environment for good landlords and legitimate tenants.
“Landlords are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Fearful of a fine they face two difficult ways forward. They can play it safe, and take a restrictive view with prospective tenants, potentially causing difficulties for the 12 million UK citizens without a passport. Alternatively, they may target certain individuals to conduct the checks, opening themselves up to accusations of racism.”
The RLA urged the government to thoroughly evaluate the impact of the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme in the West Midlands where it has been piloted, before rushing into rolling it out across the country.
“The Government’s own evaluation of its pilot scheme noted that there was only limited evidence that the policy is achieving its objectives. Given the considerable problems it will create for tenant-landlord relations it’s time for the Government to think again,” Dr Smith said.