31 deported under right to rent scheme
Friday 13 January 2017
Only 31 illegal immigrants have been deported and 75 landlords fined under tough new right to rent rules, sparking fears that landlords could be criminalised.
The Government’s right to rent scheme, introduced in February 2016, demands landlords and agents check the immigration status of would-be tenants before they move in.
Breaching the rules became a criminal offence on December 1 last year, and those who fail to check properly, or remove illegal migrants from their property, now face jail terms of up to five years as well as unlimited fines.
The penalties are deemed to be disproportionate by some – especially since Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said data on right to rent statistics was no longer routinely collected because it would be too expensive to do so.
And landlords will still be liable for fines of up to £3,000 per tenant where right to rent checks have not been properly conducted.
A survey of 810 landlords by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) revealed that 63 per cent were afraid of making a mistake when checking documents, while 43 per cent admitted they were less likely to rent to those without a British passport for fear of blundering.
In total 7,806 calls were made to the Home Office’s helpline for landlords between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.
The figures on the fines, issued over a year from November 2015, and deportations, between February and September 2016, were revealed after Baroness Lister of Burtersett submitted Parliamentary Questions.
She said that because the scheme depends on checks by landlords and agents, the ‘majority of illegal migrant prospective tenants’ will be denied access to the private rented sector without intervention by enforcement officers or the Home Office.
She said: “The right to rent scheme is designed to restrict access to the private rented sector for illegal migrants in order to encourage voluntary departure from the UK and discourage illegal migration.”
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