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Fresh Right to Rent criticism as start date announced

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Landlords could face penalties of up to £3,000 if they fail to check a potential tenant’s Right to Rent from 1 February 2016.
Fresh Right to Rent criticism as start date announced

The announcement regarding the start date of the scheme has prompted a fresh round of criticism of the rules which mean all private landlords in England will be required to carry out immigration checks on tenants before letting out a property.

Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share site, described the idea of homeowners taking in lodgers to be responsible for checking their immigration status as “ridiculous”.

“However much government insists this won’t lead to discrimination against those who don’t have British passports, it’s bound to happen,” he said, “The other worry is that tenants from overseas will be pushed towards the lower levels of the rental market where the least scrupulous landlords operate. Many of these landlords ignore legislation anyway so the problem isn’t being tackled, just moved away from more affluent areas and into the underground economy.”

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said the Home Office’s own assessment of the Right to Rent pilot scheme in the West Midlands showed there was “limited evidence” that illegal migrants’ access to the private rental sector was being restricted.

The Home Office findings showed that of those landlords in the West Midlands who had carried out Right to Rent checks, the proportion that now always request photo identification of tenants has increased from 51 per cent to 81 per cent.

However, the RLA pointed out that vulnerable UK nationals, without any form of photo identification will find it close to impossible to access rental housing. According to the 2011 Census, around 12m UK nationals don’t have a passport.

RLA policy director David Smith said: “The Government has long argued that its Right to Rent scheme is about making it more difficult for illegal immigrants to settle in the UK.

“Today’s Home Office assessment of its own pilot scheme blows a hole through this. Rolling out a policy based on only limited evidence that it works cannot be right. The report also highlights the very real danger of legitimate UK nationals being unable to access housing because they do not have photo ID.

“It is premature to be announcing the date that the scheme will roll out across England without first giving enough time to consider in full the findings of this report.”

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