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Private landlords to quiz tenants about their immigration status

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last updated: 26 May 2016 report a problem

private landlords to quiz tenants about their immigration status

Home Secretary Theresa May says illegal immigrants will find it much harder to settle in UK under planned new laws.

The Immigration Bill would force private landlords to quiz tenants about their immigration status and restrict access to bank accounts for people in the UK illegally.

It also aims to streamline the appeals process in immigration cases.

Labour said the bill did nothing about bigger problems like the “shambolic” state of UK border controls.

The bill, which is expected to become law in spring 2014, subject to approval by MPs, will include measures to allow the UK to “deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later” when there is “no risk of serious irreversible harm”.

BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani says this could lead to an increase in air fare costs for the Home Office, if it has to fly back migrants who are successful in their appeal.

A requirement is also included for temporary migrants, such as overseas students, to make a contribution to the National Health Service to prevent so-called “health tourism”.

Other new measures include:

  • New powers to check driving licence applicants’ immigration status
  • Cut the number of deportation decisions that can be appealed against from 17 to four
  • Restrict the ability of immigration detainees to apply repeatedly for bail if they have previously been refused it
  • Make it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties
  • Clamp down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a “sham” marriage or civil partnership
  • Require banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening bank accounts

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “The Immigration Bill will stop migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, reduce the pull factors which encourage people to come to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here.

Critics say much of it may prove challenging to implement: landlords will need to become experts in forged passports, there will be new court battles over the appeals process and, undoubtedly, complaints of poor and unfair decisions will remain.

The ultimate goal is increased public confidence in the system. Whatever measures are in this bill, that remains the most challenging aim of them all.

Theresa May denied claims that forcing private landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants would be unworkable, saying they would just be “required to ask some simple questions” in the same way that employers have to do when interviewing workers.

But an organisation representing private and public sector landlords said the measures would “make it much harder for non-British people to access housing even when they have a legal right to live in the UK”.

Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Checking immigration status is complicated so landlords may shy away from letting to anyone who appears not to be British.”

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