Concerns are growing in the private rented accommodation sector about the effects the Immigration Bill may have on migrants and people legally in the UK with a visa when they are seeking housing.
The Bill proposes that all private landlords must check the legal immigration status of anyone who wants to rent a property. Landlords who fail to do so or who are found to have let property to someone not legally living in the UK will face stiff penalties.
The idea has already been piloted in parts of England and will be rolled out nationally once the Bill becomes law.
However, the Chartered Institute of Housing is afraid that the regulations will lead to discrimination when landlords are letting properties. It is concerned that migrants will face difficulties when trying to rent property and that homelessness will increase as a result.
In Scotland, there are now concerns that the Government in Westminster will extend the law north of the Border without first consulting with the Scottish Parliament.
The Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland said that it has already raised concerns about the potential effects of the legislation on overseas nationals living legally in the UK.
Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess has written to UK Immigration Minister James Brokenshire about the Bill and requested a meeting to discuss it. She said that the housing parts of the Bill ran contrary to efforts in Scotland to create a “fairer” country providing “protection, safety and security”.
She added: “These proposals are deeply flawed and risk driving vulnerable people, who have the right to remain in the UK, into the hands of illegal and unscrupulous landlords.
“Landlords will also be required to pursue legal proceedings against someone who does not have the right to remain in the UK, which is surely the role of the Home Office and Border Agency, and not private individuals or businesses.”