Immigrants are finding it more difficult to rent property in the UK since the launch of a pilot scheme to check prospective tenants’ credentials, according to a new report.
The immigration check pilot is running in the Midlands before being rolled out across the country. But research in the area with landlords and tenants carried out by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found that tenants are facing higher fees and landlords are more likely to turn down people such as migrants who need to provide additional paperwork.
Under the scheme, landlords face hefty fines of between £1,000 and £3,000 if they rent property to illegal immigrants. But this is causing problems for migrants and people with UK visas who are in the country legally.
The study found that applicants were being turned down if they had a foreign accent, a non-British background or could not show a British or EU passport. In one case, an American woman was told properties were no longer available to view, but her British husband was later able to organise viewings.
Jane Morris, managing director of Property Let By Us, said: “This research clearly shows the dilemma that landlords are facing. On the one hand they want to be fair to prospective tenants, but on the other hand, they are fearful of renting a property to an illegal immigrant.”
She told Property Wire that landlords need to make the necessary checks and set up timescales with their agents for doing so. When a landlord is found to have rented a property to a tenant who is in the UK illegally, proof that the correct processes have been carried out will be essential to avoid being fined.
Ms Morris added: “A statutory excuse can be maintained if the agent/landlord can prove they have carried out all the necessary checks and notified the Home Office of any breaches.”