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Immigration Bill checks

October 07 2014
Crisis concerned that government plans to force landlords to check the immigration status of tenants could prevent more people from finding a home

Government plans to force landlords to check the immigration status of tenants have been criticised by homeless charity Crisis because of concerns they could prevent more people from finding a home.

A pilot scheme will launch in the West Midlands on 1 December. It will require landlords to check renters’ documents to prove their immigration status as part of the new Immigration Act.

However, many have raised concerns that it might lead landlords, unsure what paperwork they should be checking, to discriminate against people from visible minorities for fear getting fines if they get it wrong.

Matt Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Crisis, has warned the policy could make life even more difficult for homeless people. He said: “It’s hard enough for homeless people to find a place to live. Asking them to prove their immigration status to landlords could make matters worse.”

Documents often get lost or stolen while people are living on the streets or moving from place to place, and replacements can be expensive, Downie said. He added: “In today’s high pressured rental market, landlords are unlikely to wait for a tenant to produce the required documents, choosing instead to rent to someone who can immediately provide the evidence.”

Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire said the Act should “reform and streamline” the immigration system as well as tackling illegal immigration. He said: “When these provisions come into force, landlords will be prohibited from letting residential accommodation to people who have been disqualified by virtue of their immigration status.”

The scheme will be rolled out across the country with its success evaluated by landlords, agents and homeless charities.