Landlords in the West Midlands became the first to operate the pilot scheme to make immigration checks before renting a property. This trial scheme started in December last year and a study conducted by ‘Property Let by Us’ has shown that nine out of ten landlords do not fully understand the immigration checks they will have to carry out. They are expected to ask prospective tenants to produce either a passport or a biometric residence permit before letting a property. Non-compliance may lead to a fine of £3,000. A further nine out of ten landlords believe that this new legislation places too much responsibility on them. The research also showed that 100% of landlords intend to rely on their letting agent or reference agency to carry out the checks and 93% of them don’t feel confident about making the checks themselves.
Dispute Resolution Partner Michelle Hayter says, "The scheme was brought in to protect immigrants from unscrupulous landlords and to stop inappropriate properties being rented to large groups of illegal immigrants. Both landlords and campaigners have criticised the scheme saying that it may lead to discrimination – landlords may take the easy option and only rent property to white British people to avoid paying extra fees to run the additional checks." The government insists that the move is to protect landlords and immigrants alike, rather than to encourage any form of discrimination, and that the checks will make it more difficult for those not meant to be in the UK to stay here illegally.
Our Dispute Resolution team based in Christchurch also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Michelle or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.