Should Landlords Check Immigration Status?


A proposal has been made by the Department of Communities and Local Government that allow landlords to end tenancies from illegal migrants and overstayers without a court order. This is because the Home Office will notify the illegal migrant at the address where he/she stays at. The letter will also contain that the person has no right to rent in the United Kingdom. The landlord will be expected to evict the tenant and vacates the property. This in addition to the landlords’ responsibility to check tenants’ immigration status – known as “right to rent” checks which was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014. This has started in West Midlands but will soon be rolled out across the UK. This will create a new criminal offence, making it punishable by a fine or up to five years imprisonment for landlords and agents not complying with the “right to rent” checks or not ensuring their tenants who have no legal status to remain in the UK leaves their property.

In his speech announcing the Immigration Bill on 21 May, the Prime Minister indicated his intention to go further, stating:

“There are other ways we can identify those who shouldn’t be here, for example through housing. For the first time we’ve had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly.

We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point.”

According to The Guardian, who have previously referred to the measures as “a dramatic illustration of the Government’s initiative to discourage migrants from leaving their countries of origin”, the Refugee Council has already “expressed grave concerns” over the plans.

According to BBC reports, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants stated on Radio 4’s World at One that “We have heard that British people with foreign accents are finding it difficult to get tenancies… This kind of legislation will have a wider discriminatory effect on people.”

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