From December 1st 2014, the Home Office will be ‘piloting’ section 20 of the Immigration Act 2014 in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell.
Section 20 is concerns itself with residential tenancies, and says that:
‘A person cannot rent a property or room if s/he does not have the right to be in the UK. Landlords or their agents are required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and lodgers. There are some properties that are excluded from these checks, which include: social housing, care homes, hospices, student accommodation, accommodation provided by an employer, hostels and refuges, leases longer than 7 years. If landlords fail to check and are caught renting to someone without valid leave to remain in the UK, they can be fined as follows up to £1000 for a first ‘breach’, and up to £3000 for any subsequent ‘breach’.
A draft code of practice (referring, offensively, to ‘illegal immigrants’) is available here: (Not available!)
ASIRT has grave concerns about the ‘right to rent’ scheme, which will inevitably further disempower vulnerable tenants- whatever their actual immigration status- while granting yet more power to potentially exploitative landlords, many of whom are already known to disregard the existing legislation by which they are theoretically bound.
Evidence already suggests that migrants quite lawfully resident in the UK are being asked to pay a ‘migrant surcharge’- or being asked to pay inflated rents and deposits to cover landlords’ potential fine risks.
We are working alongside the Movement Against Xenophobia and Birmingham Community Law Centre to collate and monitor evidence about the efects of the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme, ensuring that Home Office officials are not able to ‘whitewash’ the scheme before rolling it out to other regions in the UK.
Additionally, a public meeting has been called for 5pm-7pm on Thursday 20th November at St George’s Community Hub, Great Hampton Row, Newtown, Birmingham B19 3JG.
The meeting is aimed at migrants, refugees, campaigning organisations supporting migrants & asylum seekers, as well as individuals concerned with the current anti-immigrant tone of public debate. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.