Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Other Job? I'm an Amateur Borders Guard; Making Landlords Responsible for Weeding out Illegal Immigrants Will Backfire on Tenants with Every Right to Be Here, Says Victoria Whitlock the Accidental Landlord

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Other Job? I'm an Amateur Borders Guard; Making Landlords Responsible for Weeding out Illegal Immigrants Will Backfire on Tenants with Every Right to Be Here, Says Victoria Whitlock the Accidental Landlord

Article excerpt

Byline: says Victoria Whitlock

DOES the Government realise, I wonder, how much more difficult it will be for some tenants to find accommodation if and when it rolls out its new "right to rent" scheme across the UK? Right to rent is a new requirement for landlords to check prospective tenants have the right to reside in the UK before letting a property to them. Yes, that's right. Landlords who have absolutely no training or experience of the immigration system will be responsible for checking the status of their tenants to make sure they are legally entitled to live in Britain.

Those landlords who fail to carry out adequate checks and deliberately or inadvertently let to illegal immigrants could be slapped with a PS3,000 fine.

Landlords in the West Midlands are the guinea pigs for this scheme, which was introduced there on Monday, so unless you have a rental property in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley or Wolverhampton you don't need to worry just yet. A date for the introduction of right to rent in London and the rest of the South-East hasn't been announced, and I live in hope that it won't happen.

However, if the Government persists with its plan for landlords across the country to act as unpaid, inexperienced immigration officers, this is bound to lead to many of us needlessly refusing to let property to thousands of people, many of them British. To avoid being accused of discrimination, landlords will have to ask for photo ID from every prospective tenant. The advisory leaflet from the Government says the checks will be "straightforward and quick", but how straightforward and quick will it be for Britons without a passport? These tenants will have to produce a combination of two other documents to prove their Britishness, such as a birth certificate, driver's licence, a letter from their employer or from a higher educational institute confirming their enrolment on a course, or a letter from a prison or probation officer. …

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