Implementing the Immigration Bill by HMO Landlords/ladies

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!

Going Forward:

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.

shed

 

To read more about the Immigration Bill on residential tenancies click here

7 Comments

Filed under being a landlord, Future of HMOs, Management of an HMO

7 responses to “Implementing the Immigration Bill by HMO Landlords/ladies

  1. Owen

    Well it’s good to see that it’s not only LL that are having to do these checks and that GP’s and A&E will be doing it too.
    Oh that got dropped after pressure from the BMA didn’t it……

    • Hi Owen. Good point, although they’ve got to pick on someone otherwise there’ll be no one to beat about the head with the Law bat! I understand that landlords are lower in the pecking order than medical professionals?!

  2. Pingback: Landlord Law Blog Roundup from 2 June

  3. Jill

    I do wonder how I would have rented my first flat in England if this law had been in effect. I was here on a tourist visa, and while I was doing nothing illegal I don’t know who would have rented to me…

  4. “about UKIP’s policies and its frightening popularity within the South East”

    Certainly I can see why it’s frightening for a landlord with rooms to let, although when those old ladies voted in 1974 on staying in a customs union called the European Economic Community they (and the rest of us) had no idea what the EEC would morph into.

    But look at it for a moment from another point of view. As a landlord, how would you feel if a planning law was changed, and within a year there were ten percent more rooms to let in Eastbourne – and they were generally better rooms, too ?

    Would that affect the rent you can charge, or the sale value of your property ?

    Because that’s effectively what happened to the UK labour market when the EU was enlarged to take in the much poorer ex-Warsaw Pact countries (prior to that you didn’t get, say, 20% of the population of Tuscany upping sticks to Hampshire, or people in Bavaria shifting en masse to Sussex, because those areas were not poor).

    Now imagine you’re an unskilled school leaver looking for work – and there are ten percent more young people looking for work – not only that, but they’re brighter than you, and a £6.50 ph job to them is a king’s ransom, because they come from much poorer backgrounds. How’s that going to affect the sale value of our school-leaver’s labour (which is all s/he has to sell) ?

    A year or so back I listened to a phone in on R5 where a poor guy from Dudley, two years out of school and never worked despite hundreds of applications, not the sharpest knife in the drawer by the sound of him, was bemoaning his fate. How is that guy ever going to get a job when there’s always another bright chap from Cracow available ?

    You should think about these things, because (unless you have a career in property lined up for them) another ten years or so it will be your children looking for work. Doubtless they’re as bright as their Mum – but what about those not-so-bright British kids ? Don’t they deserve a life ?

    (a great blog btw)

    • Hello Laban and apologies for taking a while to respond. Your comment has validity and I too see UK children out of school or university struggling to find suitable jobs. I know that many of my LHA benefit claimants have given up looking for work as more efficient economic migrants are selected for the job and willing to take a lower wage. However, we’re in a free global market and this has changed everything. In the past families would follow in each other’s footsteps in the same profession or company/factory but those days are gone. Many of my tenants who have come from abroad say that UK workers are lazy and my tenants bemoan the fact that all the “foreigners” have taken the council flats that UK citizens should be entitled to. I can only report from my very small world and do see both sides of the story. If my children can’t get a job in 10 years? Then I shall force them to become plumbers, electricians or car mechanics as all the ones I’ve come across recently are crap!

  5. “we’re in a free global market” – not quite, or I could buy a house in Delhi, or move to Australia – and the hordes at Calais (or the African coast) could just step on the train or plane.

    “this has changed everything” – opening the EU borders is the result of a political decision, not an Act of God. “those days are gone” – likewise. Why is it ‘frightening’ to want to reverse that, apart from the immediate hit to your wallet?

    But … you never did say what should happen to that not-so-bright British kid, competing for his £6.50 an hour job against the youth of half Europe. Is he to remain unemployed for life? I’m kind of old fashioned and think we owe more to him than to someone who’s just stepped off the coach at Victoria, no matter how bright he is.

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