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Right To Rent Immigration Checks Making PRS Landlords Over Cautious

Right To Rent Immigration Checks Making PRS Landlords Over Cautious

Lawful Tenants Refused Rental Properties
Because Of Right To Rent Immigration Checks

Right to Rent immigration checks could cause more UK private rented sector (PRS) landlords to refuse tenancy applications from lawful tenants because they are over cautious about letting to tenants with foreign accents and names or have unfamiliar identity documents.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, (RLA), the complexity of the Government’s plans to turn landlords into unpaid Border Agency staff could see lawful tenants being refused housing.

The warning comes as new research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) indicates the difficulties caused by the Government’s Right to Rent scheme, originally piloted in the West Midlands, concluding that UK PRS landlords Right to Rent checks have resulted in discrimination against tenants who appear “foreign”.

The JCWI research discovered that:

  • 42% of landlords were less likely to consider tenant applications from someone who did not have a British passport,
  • 27% of landlords were reluctant to engage with tenancy applications from people with foreign accents or names

Under the new immigration bill, PRS landlords are set to be legally responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants. Following the pilot scheme in the West Midlands, the Government recently announced that the immigration checks by landlords would be expanded nationwide, with landlords facing up to five years in prison for failure to undertake the Right to Rent checks.

Residential Landlords Association policy director, David Smith, said: “Whilst the RLA opposes discrimination against tenants because of their race or nationality, the Government’s plans are causing confusion and anxiety for many landlords. If the Government expect landlords to act as border police it should provide the training and material needed to give them the confidence to carry out the checks required of them. In the absence of such support, today’s research sadly shows the inevitable consequences of the policy which the RLA has long voiced concerns about. Faced with considerable sanctions, landlords will inevitably play it safe where a tenant’s identity documents are either unclear or simply not known to them. It is concerning that the Government remains committed to rolling out the Right to Rent policy nationwide without first publishing its assessment of the impact it has had in its own pilot area. Ministers should halt plans to proceed with its rollout to allow time for proper scrutiny and consideration of the impact it is likely to have.”

The research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants comes before the publication of the Home Office’s own assessment of the Right to Rent pilot scheme detailing its level of effectiveness.

There seems to be a huge communication breakdown somewhere, we as landlords are now unpaid members of the UK Border Agency, like it or not, we mustn’t discriminate against any tenant applicant because it is an “ism” and can be punished by imprisonment and a large fine, however, if we house someone in need, we leave ourselves open to prosecution and a large fine. If we act in a professional manner, we are accused of not caring, but if we have too much contact with tenants we are seen as overbearing and interfering. If we spend money on properties we are seen as rich money grabbers that are open to exploitation and if we don’t spend vast amounts to correct damage caused by tenant lifestyles as and when tenants demand then we are called tight and heartless. Homeless charities want the UK PRS closed down, the Government want as much of our profits as they can get their hands on and the media think we are all descendants of Rachman and Rigsby – How is the system supposed to work?

Major clampdown launched on ‘beds in sheds’

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

Prior to the Government reshuffle, ministers last week launched a major clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to suburban shanty towns that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.

Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green, (who have since been replaced by Mark Frisk and Mark Harper respectively) launched new guidance for local authorities making clear the wide range of powers at their ministerial disposal to shut down so-called ‘beds in sheds’ that blight entire neighbourhoods and take action against other bad practices by rogue landlords such as overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Mr Shapps in his then post as housing minister and Mr Green as the then immigration minister saw the evidence for themselves when they attended an early morning visit on a suspected rogue landlord’s properties, and witnessed the squalid conditions the so called tenants lived in, despite paying the landlords hundreds of pounds a week.

While visiting six properties, officials from Ealing Council and the UK Border Agency encountered 39 individual tenants, 22 of whom were illegal immigrants:

  • Of those 22 illegal immigrants encountered, 19 were detained (3 were required to report to a Reporting Centre because they were a couple with a young child);
  • Of those 22 encountered, 14 were found in the outhouses (this includes two adults with a young child). The remainder were found in the houses;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 16 were Indian nationals and 3 were Pakistani nationals;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 9 entered the country without leave, 8 were overstayers, one was a failed asylum seeker and one was working in breach of his visa conditions.

    Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

    Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

Power to tackle rogue landlords

The new guidance highlights the range of actions councils can take to clamp down on rogue landlords once and for all. These include:

  • Proactively identifying problem properties and effectively working through complaints;
  • Taking action using a full range of legal powers to stop rogue landlord activities;
  • Working with other organisations including the police and UK Border Agency to tackle linked criminal behaviour;
  • Prosecuting rogue landlords who persistently let illegal property;
  • Providing evidence of landlord’s earnings to magistrates to ensure they receive an appropriate level of fine for offences;
  • Naming and shaming prosecuted landlords by publicising successful cases;
  • Working with the new national taskforce which has been set up between Whitehall departments, the police, the UK Border Agency and local government. The taskforce is exploring all possible options for closing down ‘beds in sheds’.

Thousands of sheds and outbuildings have been being rented out illegally to vulnerable migrants by ruthless rogue landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These tenants can often find it difficult to return home quickly with some having destroyed their passports to avoid removal often leaving them to either live in these outbuildings or face living on the streets.

Outgoing Housing Minister Shapps said: “It’s simply unacceptable that people are living in squalid, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords more interested in a quick profit rather than their basic responsibilities. The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working and benefit fraud and creates a shadow housing market that carries dangers to people’s health as well as community relations. I want to see all agencies from local authorities, the police and the UK Border Agency using the full range of powers at their disposal to work together on a national clampdown towards ridding our communities of this problem once and for all.”

Whilst former Immigration Minister Green said: “Operations like this show our determination to do whatever is necessary, working alongside local authorities and police, to enforce our laws against those who are in the UK illegally. The UK Border Agency continues to gather intelligence about those illegally in the country. Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they need help to leave the country voluntarily we will offer it but if they refuse we will enforce there removal.”

The latest guidance is backed up by the recent allocation of £1.8 Million (GBP) to local authorities earlier this year to tackle the issue and flush out rogue landlords renting out ‘beds in sheds’.

The Government have stated that they are commited to targeting rogue landlords and any change in ministerial representation will not affect their policy on this or any other matter.

The full report can be downloaded here

Why Does Housing Benefit Cost Taxpayers £22 Billion (GBP) A Year?

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, (DWP), show there are close to 5,000 families still claiming more than the £400 Housing Benefit cap.

According to a report in the Daily Mail

  • At least 100 families are living in luxury homes and raking in enough housing benefits to fund a £1 Million mortgage each
  • Of the 100 families, 60 have their rent paid by the state to the value of £5,000 a month, according to the Department for Work and Pensions
  • More than 30 of those families are given a staggering £1,500 a week (£6,000 a month) to live on and at least 60 families receive more than three times the national average wage, getting £5,000 a month
  • Unemployed living in luxury homes in upmarket parts of London such as Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster
  • Poor families should not be allowed to live ‘swanky’ lifestyles in postcodes beyond their means, says campaigners
  • Calls for the Government’s £400 per week cap to be properly enforced

Although almost four out of every five people on housing benefit pick up less than £100 each week.

At a time when millions of people are struggling to get on the housing ladder, the handouts would easily cover the monthly payments on a £1Million (GBP) mortgage.

Government ministers last year announced a sweeping range of welfare reforms that included housing benefit, which costs the taxpayer £22 Billion (GBP) every year, should be capped at £400 per week.

The figures have been criticised by campaigners and raised concerns that the Government’s plan to cap housing benefit is not being enforced.

Public opinion has been riled by the cases of immigrants and asylum seekers who have been allowed to live in lavish flats at the expense of taxpayers.

The Government handouts have allowed families to live in upmarket parts of London such as Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster alongside wealthy neighbours such as Roman Abramovich and George Michael.

WHERE HOUSING BENEFIT CASH GOES EVERY YEAR 

  • NORTH  EAST………………………….. £923.8m
  • NORTH WEST……………………….. £2,371.5m
  • YORKSHIRE…………………………….. £1,497m
  • EAST MIDLANDS………………….. £1,112.6m
  • WEST MIDLANDS…………………. £1,736.6m
  • EAST…………………………………….. £1,632.6m
  • LONDON………………………………. £5,539.0m
  • SOUTH EAST………………………… £2,536.9m
  • SOUTH WEST……………………….. £1,525.9m
  • WALES…………………………………….  £892.9m
  • SCOTLAND ………………………….. £1,660.6m

TOTAL  £21,429.5m

 

The figures will raise calls for the Government’s benefit reforms to be bulldozed through the Commons – despite pleading from Liberal Democrats.

The data, made public under the Freedom of Information Act, show the areas of the UK that pay out the most in housing benefit are

  1. Birmingham – £469 Million per year
  2. Glasgow       £337 Million per year
  3. Brent            £306 Million per year
  4. Westminster £281 Million per year
  5. Hackney       £267 Million per year
  6. Newham       £264 Million per year
  7. Enfield          £258 Million per year
  8. Haringey       £254 Million per year
  9. Liverpool      £254 Million per year
  10. 10.  Manchester £248 Million per year

The DWP says the new rules which have been put in place mean that those families currently getting more than £400-per-week will be gradually taken out of the system and moved into cheaper accommodation.

A DWP spokesman added: ‘These figures underline exactly why our Housing Benefit reforms are so necessary’.

Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This is further evidence that it is right to cap benefits. It is unfair to ask taxpayers to pay for swanky central London homes for others when they can’t afford to live in those postcodes themselves. Many middle or low income families have to decide if they can afford to house their family in town, or if they have to move out to somewhere more affordable. It is not unreasonable to ask those on benefits to make the same choice.”

 Read the Full Daily Mail article here

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