Briefings: Immigration Bill

By: Martha Mackenzie  Published: February 2014


Clauses 15-32 of the Immigration Bill require private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants or prospective tenants. It prevents them from letting their property to non-EEA nationals without the necessary form of leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.

Summary

Renters who have every right to live and rent in the UK will be locked out of the mainstream private rented market. They may be forced to seek housing from landlords offering poor quality accommodation, or from those wilfully avoiding their responsibilities. This measure will make an already difficult, expensive, and over-heated rental market even worse for people with few good options open to them. Shelter’s submission to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee: Immigration Bill and the Immigration Bill Briefing: Removing clauses 15-32 ‘Residential Tenancies’ make this case.

Despite specific exemptions for those accommodated from, or involving a local authority (as set out in Schedule 3, paragraph 7 of the bill) four key groups of vulnerable children, young people and adults are not clearly exempt. The  Immigration Bill Briefing: Accommodation from or involving local authorities suggests a possible amendment- please see the Annex.

Summary

This requirement is unworkable and should be scrapped. It will simply restrict access to good quality accommodation from people with every right to rent a home in this country. It will make an already difficult, expensive, and over-heated rental market even worse for people whose options are extremely limited.

The private rented sector is under immense pressure. Demand is growing rapidly in response to the shortage of affordable rented homes and the high cost of buying a home. Rents are now unaffordable to people on average incomes in half the country. In this overheated market prospective renters can face intense competition to secure a home in their price range.

Landlords in a position to choose between tenants are likely to choose the tenant who they believe is less risky. A wide range of research already shows how groups perceived as 'risky' find it significantly more difficult to find a private rented home.

This requirement will exacerbate existing discrimination. The added difficulties of verifying less familiar pieces of documentation and the risk of penalties to landlords will make it harder for many people in vulnerable situations to secure a decent, safe private rented home.

The Bill has not taken account of the impact this will have on people already in housing need. They are still likely to be excluded from the mainstream private rental market, potentially increasing homelessness- particularly among BME households. In 2012 24 percent of households accepted as homeless in England were non-white. This is compared to 14.5 per cent of the total population.

Renters who have every right to live and rent in the UK will be locked out of the mainstream private rented market. They may be forced to seek housing from landlords offering lower quality accommodation, sometimes wilfully avoiding their responsibilities.

The loss of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is already the leading cause of homelessness and the sector is already blighted by rogue landlords and a shadowy black market. If this measure makes it into the Immigration Act it will make a bad situation even worse. 

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