I’ve been reading with great interest details of the Immigration Act which was announced on 14th May 2014 as, once implemented, this will affect all landlords but primarily HMO Landlords. One of the highlights of the Act is:
“Requiring private landlords to check immigration status of tenants, preventing those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private housing”
Immigration minister, Mark Harper, diplomatically goes on to say “There is no doubt that immigrants have helped make Britain a richer and stronger society, but we must take firm action to address illegal immigration.
“We are also determined to tackle the problem of rogue landlords and the exploitation of illegal migrants within the housing sector. We have already taken action on beds and sheds and we can and will do much more to tackle poor quality housing.
“Alongside existing enforcement activity and other measures in the Bill, we will be requiring all landlords to ensure that prospective tenants are here legally.
“This is in line with existing best practice across the rental sector. We do not want to disadvantage legitimate landlords and tenants and have devised a system which will be effective and light-touch while making it tougher for illegal immigrants to rent property, but giving us the powers to take robust action against rogue landlords.”
Would I Carry Out Immigration Checks?
There are many landlords out there who don’t even know what to do with a deposit so how on earth will they be able to carry out immigration checks? My rooms have a 50% occupancy of casual, foreign workers from all over the globe whom we passport and identity check on application.
As I read and nodded in a somewhat apolitical manner (as I have no idea where my allegiances currently lie), I was reminded of Sacha and if things would have turned out differently if I’d be forced to carry out immigration checks. He arrived on the doorstep two years ago after being made redundant from his career with the Romanian border police. He decided to come to the UK with his life savings (method of travel has always been a closely guarded secret) and was deposited in a hostel for a few days. I warmed to him immediately and relieved him of a small deposit and one week’s rent upfront; he then wasted no time looking for work with his limited English. That amazing man has worked his way up from kitchen porter to General Manager of a four star hotel – albeit still on minimum wage despite working 60 hours a week. He left his room last month to take up the offer of hotel accommodation and, when I cautioned that he’d likely be on duty 24 hours a day, his reply was “I’m grateful for all the hours they give me”.
Over the last year he and I have had a few political discussions, not least about UKIP’s policies and its frightening popularity within the South East. He recounted incidents of serving hotel customers their afternoon tea and scones only to be turned away or spat at by little old ladies when they discovered his Romanian citizenship. Ironically, he was recently threatened with legal action on the grounds of racial discrimination when he reprimanded a British worker at the same hotel for being consistently late or absent from her shift.
During our enlightening political debates, he helped me practice the words “Blaaaady Foreigners” in a Romanian accent should I ever need to use it!
There is an outside chance it may make beds in sheds or 15 people sleeping in shifts in a single property a thing of the past as rogue landlords will deem the whole process to be too admin heavy. Realistically, I suspect that once the Immigration Bill is implemented and whoever is tasked with checking on landlords, the Priests’ Holes of old will suddenly come back into use.
To read more about the Immigration Bill on residential tenancies click here