Further changes to the upcoming Immigration Bill have been announced, as the British and French Governments struggle to cope with the migrant crisis in Calais.
As part of the clampdown, landlords will be required to evict tenants who are found to not have the right to live in England. Landlords will be able to terminate tenancies, sometimes without the need for a court order, when requests for asylum fail. In addition, landlords are to be made responsible for checking the eligibility of a migrant to live in the country, before agreeing a lease.
Repeat offenders could face five years in prison, with financial assistance for people who fail in claiming asylum also ending under the crackdown. It is said that more than 10,000 illegal migrants receive a taxpayer-funded allowance of £36 per week, despite their asylum applications having been rejected.
Communities Secretary Grey Clark pledged that the Government would clampdown firmly on, ‘rogue landlords who make money out of illegal immigration.’
Under the proposed regulations for landlords, the Home Office would give notice when an application for asylum fails, to confirm that the tenant in question no longer holds the right to rent property in England. Once this notice has been agreed, landlords will have the power to end the tenancy.
Landlords and letting agents who flaunt this proposed legislation will be added to a blacklist, which will allow councils to monitor those who have been convicted of housing offences. In turn, rogue landlords and agents will be banned from renting properties if they are found to be repeat offenders.
Mr Clark said that cases where tenants refused to leave a property would end up in court, but argued that the new process would be quicker and more efficient, with landlords having official evidence of the tenant’s failed immigration status.
‘You have saved the landlord having to spend money establishing something that is clear and that the Home Office can provide-which is a clear statement of whether they should be there or not,’ Clark told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Clark went on to say that the scheme was part of a, ‘joined-up system to send people home,’ and, ‘that is exactly what the Home Office have the power to do in serving the notice confirming there is no longer the right to rent.’
Immigration Bill changes proposed
Shadow immigration minister David Hanson acknowledged that there is the need for tougher immigration checks. However, he is concerned that ministers are, ‘offloading’ the problem onto landlords and it is the responsibility of the authorities to decide if people should remain or be deported.
The changes to the Immigration Bill come on the heels of earlier amendments regarding migrant checks. Since August 2014, private landlords in the West Midlands have been permitted to conduct checks to establish the tenants’ right to live in the UK. Those who have failed to do so have faced a penalty of up to £3,000.
Mr Clark believes that the pilot scheme in the West Midlands has been a success and would be extended across the UK. He did however stop short of saying just how many people had been deported as a result of the initiative.
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association believes the mooted proposals are a, ‘welcome step forward.’ Speaking to the Today programme, Lambert said, ‘I am slightly concerned that we are breaking the 40-year-old principle that it has to be a court that ends a tenancy…but we do need something that will work in practice.’