RLA Argue Over Wording of Immigration Bill
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have won a victory for private rental sector (PRS) landlords after raising concerns that it would have imposed a double penalty on landlords and effectively legalised squatting.
The RLA had a meeting with Immigration Minister, Mark Harper on 17th October and highlighted the concerns of its landlord members over the wording of the Bill.
Clause 17 of the proposed Immigration Bill was originally ambiguously worded and the RLA have argued that unless the specific wording of Clause 17 were to be left as it was, it would see landlords facing a double penalty for breaching legislation. Landlords would face hefty fines and be unable to enforce the payment of rent and they would be unable to take back possession of the property, allowing the tenants to reside in rental properties rent free.
Under the current wording of Clause 17, landlords could argue against the fine by checking identity documents that were not obvious forgeries but they would lose the right to claim rent for the property because the tenant was residing illegally in the country pending deportation or an appeal.
In a letter to the Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, the Immigration Minister, Mark Harper wrote: “I agree that the wording of clause 17, when read in isolation from the rest of the Bill and when taken with recent case law, does risk introducing some potential ambiguity in relation to the wider validity of a tenancy contract. I share the Residential Landlords Association’s concern to avoid this occurring and I am pleased to inform you that I intend to table a technical amendment at the Commons Committee stage which will make clear that nothing in this Chapter affects the validity of any residential tenancy agreement.”
Alan Ward, Chairman of the RLA commented on Mr Harper’s letter saying:“Landlords will welcome the Minister’s decision to introduce an amendment to provide the protection sought by the RLA. Having pledged to introduce a scheme that was ‘light touch’ the Minister’s response is a welcome sign of the Government listening and responding positively to ensure its immigration proposals achieve this.We are now working to ensure landlords are only responsible for checking a tenant’s right to rent at the start of the contract and will not be expected to monitor their status throughout the tenancy.”
To view the letter in full click here
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