Parts of the Immigration Bill to be debated this week in Parliament risk a return to the dark days when landlords posted ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ in the windows of their properties, it’s been claimed.
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said proposed rules demanding landlords check the immigration status of anyone trying to rent a property could result in discrimination and “everyday racism”, with anyone with a foreign sounding name facing problems when they try to find housing.
The scheme, which has been piloted in the West Midlands, is due to be rolled out nationwide as part of the new legislation. It would make it a criminal offence to let property to anyone who was not in the UK legally.
In an article for the Independent on Sunday, Mr Burnham wrote: “The new document checks could become the modern equivalent of the ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ signs and, by being more insidious, such casual discrimination will be far harder to challenge.”
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants found that of the landlords who took part in the pilot, more than four in 10 said they were less likely to rent a property to someone who did not have a UK passport. More than a quarter said they would not be keen to talk to people with foreign names and accents who wanted to rent accommodation.
Mr Burnham said the proposals were in direct conflict with a speech made by David Cameron at last week’s Conservative Party Conference. In it, the Prime Minister highlighted the issue of young black and Asian people whose CVs were repeatedly rejected by employers.
Mr Burnham added: “If he truly believes what he was saying, why on earth is he about to legislate to make the same everyday racism far more likely to happen in the housing market?”