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UKALA Has Serious Concerns About Immigration Bill

UKALA Has Serious Concerns About Immigration Bill

Immigration Bill Concerns Highlighted To Government

The UK Association of Letting Agents (UKLA) has voiced some serious concerns over the introduction of the Government’s new Immigration Bill.

The concerns were raised by UKALA Executive Caroline Kenny to Parliament’s Public Bill Committee after the UKLA were called to give evidence on behalf of letting agents.
Ms Kenny used the opportunity to bring letting agents’ doubts over the enforcement and responsibilities of the proposals to the immigration minister’s attention highlighting the UKLA’s concerns over restricting access to all but low risk tenants.

The UKLA were asked to give evidence to the Public Bill Committee following lengthy discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Home Office.

UK Association of Letting AgentsSpeaking after the evidence session, Caroline Kenny commented, “Whilst letting agents are well equipped to carry our checks, and do so on behalf of landlord clients every day, the legal requirement to periodically monitor and report on the immigration status of tenants could affect their ability to conduct business and the safety of their staff. UKALA is deeply concerned that the Bill’s requirements will further restrict access to housing for people from outside of the UK, or with non-standard requirements. Many areas of the UK have very competitive lettings markets and it is entirely conceivable that landlords will instruct agents to favour those tenants they perceive as ‘low risk’. UKALA agrees that landlords and letting agents should act responsibly to ensure that only tenants with the proper permission to reside in the UK are granted new private tenancies. However, we believe it is not appropriate to make housing professionals responsible for policing country’s borders.”

The views shared by many UK landlords with rental portfolios within the private rented sector are more defined, they don’t want the added responsibility of having to carry out these checks on tenants immigration status, they are in the business of renting out property to tenants that can afford the rent, not being unpaid agents of the UK Border Agency performing personal vetting services.

Tenant referencing services are going to become a vital mainstay of all UK PRS landlords’ operational procedures if they are to stay within the confines of the Government new proposals, this creates business opportunities for service providers.

Illegal Immigrants To Be Banned From Renting Property In The UK

Illegal Immigrants To Be Banned From Renting Property In The UK

Landlords Face £3000 Fines
For Letting To Illegal Immigrants

Private rental sector landlords will be risking a fine of £3000 for breaking the law by letting rental property to illegal immigrants without doing proper background checks and comprehensive tenant referencing.

The proposal is currently undergoing a seven week consultation process and set to become part of the forthcoming Immigration Bill, launched by Immigration Minister, Mark Harper.

Under the proposed new legislation, illegal immigrants will not be entitled to free NHS treatment and will be prohibited from renting property in the UK.

Mr Harper said: “The consultation seeks views on the creation of a duty to require landlords to conduct immigration status checks on tenants before providing residential accommodation, with financial penalties for those landlords who let property to illegal migrants having failed to conduct the necessary checks. The landlord checking proposal is modelled on the existing civil penalty scheme for employers of illegal migrant workers.”

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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

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