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Tenant immigration check proposals ‘inefective’

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22/08/2013
The British Property Federation (BPF) has condemned the government's proposal that landlords should check tenants' immigration status.

In May, the government set out plans which put the onus on landlords to verify the immigration status of their tenants.

Other landlords bodies have already come out against the plans, and Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather dubbed the propsals ‘completely unworkable’.

Following the close of the official consultation period yesterday, the British Property Federation added its voice to the dissenters.

It said that the checks would be an ‘ineffective’ way to tackle illegal immigration and could cost landlords as much as £156.5m in the three years after its implementation.

The BPF said that it was unlikely that landlords would be able to understand complex immigration documents and called for a further research or a pilot phase before any national rollout.

Other proposals made by the BPF include introducing a voluntary whistleblowing system for landlords, reducing the number of people who have to be checked and allowing landlords more time to comply with the rules before any possibility of prosecution.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said:

“Landlords are not skilled immigration officers and their recognition of documents beyond the standard UK passport and birth certificate will not be high.

“It takes skilled border control staff time to check the paperwork and credentials of those migrating from outside Europe and doesn’t suggest that the unskilled eye will find this easy. It would be reckless to proceed with these proposals without testing this central assumption that landlords will recognise a wide array of documents.

“The government has said it will consider ways of making these regulations as light touch as possible and we hope that they will consider a different check for students, who already face significant additional checks as part of their application process.”

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