The government is failing landlords over the new Right to Rent immigration policy, research by the Residential Landlords Association suggests.
In their survey of over 1,500 landlords, more than 90% said they had received no correspondence from the government on their new legal duty to check the immigration status of their tenants. This comes in spite of the fact that the new law – which forces landlords to undertake checks on their tenants to make sure they have the right to live in the UK – came into force on Monday.
The scarcity of information from the government is causing confusion and worry over how landlords are expected to carry out these checks.
72% of landlords said they do not understand their obligations under the policy, while 44% said they will only rent to those with documents that are familiar to them.
As a result of this, the RLA is calling on the government to extend pilot versions of the policy before rolling it out across the country. The evaluation of the pilot scheme – which took place in the West Midlands – found that there was only “limited evidence” that it was deterring illegal immigrants from seeking to access rental housing.
“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,” Dr David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, commented. “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,” he went on. “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.”
He added: “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.”