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Reviewing New Immigration Legislation

Although we covered the new immigration legislation recently, Sharon Betton, landlord advisor with the Bolton Bond Board and author of The Landlord Good Management and Practice Guide, considers that this could have serious implications, and not just for landlords. She shares her thoughts here.

I was asked by the local newspaper for my views in connection with my role with a local landlord association, which I was happy to give. This was followed by a live interview on BBC local radio, which interestingly, saw this legislation as a means of attacking ‘rogue’ landlords and improving standards in the private sector! It seems that all new legislation now can be seen as a measure to improve poor standards. Perhaps that justification can be used for licensing, but it seems absurd to think this could be one result of landlords being expected to act as Immigration Officers.

We all know there are some dreadful, exploitative landlords; but the very worst do not usually appear on the radar; they work undercover, almost a black market of private renting. These new measures, rather than solving the problem, will exacerbate them. Those here without leave to remain, those that have no right to a tenancy, will be sought out by those landlords eager to make whatever they can from the most vulnerable. There will be more beds in sheds, more over-crowding in inadequate accommodation; people here illegally will be too frightened to report terrible conditions; they will accept any accommodation because they have no choice.

And what of the innocents who will be victims of this legislation? What of those who have every right to accept a tenancy, but whose language skills are poor, who may not understand the correspondence they receive and therefore cannot persuade a landlord to accept them as tenants?  Landlords have been told for many years that they cannot discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation; many will have prided themselves on the transparent and open way they have allocated tenancies, without prejudice, will now feel forced to refuse anyone that they cannot be certain can legally accept a tenancy. 

So, tougher times ahead for those not born in the United Kingdom, landlords under threat if they inadvertently accept someone without legal status – how does this solve the problem that is perceived to come from Asylum Seekers and Immigrants? Even more, how does this improve those standards that seem to be the concern of everyone?

This may be worthy legislation, but seems ill-thought out, perhaps trying to hit too many bulls-eyes – illegal immigrants, ‘Rogue’ landlords and property standards – and by doing so, losing the focus of what they originally intended – which was to stop Britain providing for those who have no right to it.

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