The British government is set to unveil a new set of rules aimed at making it harder for landlords to take advantage of immigrants living in the country as well as putting an additional burden on them to check the immigration status of their tenants.
Among others, the new set of legislation to be pushed through parliament includes:
- allow landlords to evict illegal immigrants without a court order;
- impose a fine or imprisonment of up to five years on landlords if they fail to check the immigration status of tenants;
- introduce a new fit and proper test for landlords to ensure the properties are safe for tenants; and
- allow councils to ban repeat offending landlords from renting out properties
In a two pronged attack on landlords and illegal immigrants, the government hopes to improve the housing conditions for legal immigrants by imposing additional rules on landlords to ensure they do not exploit vulnerable migrants by renting out unfit flats and houses.
At the same time, under the Immigration Bill to be introduced, the Communities Secretary Greg Clark said that landlords will be expected to evict migrants who lose their right to live in the country. A Home Office notice will be sent to landlords notifying them that their tenants no longer have the right to rent in the UK.
Inside London's rents crisis
London is building new homes at half the pace it needs to meet the intensifying housing demand from a growing population set to surge past 9 million by 2020.
As a consequence, London's average rent for all property types has soared by over 25% between 2011 and 2015, according to the Valuation Office Agency, reaching £1,350 per month. It will get even higher.
Londoners have been forced into smaller and stranger accommodation, from bedroom sharing to living on boats to property guardianship. Those at the sharpest end are at risk of exploitation: men are offering desperate women 'free' rent in exchange for sex.
For the complete series on London's rents crisis by IBTimes UK, check out our Flipboard magazine on the issue that defines the city.
In some circumstances, landlords will be able to evict the tenants without a court order, the paper adds. Further, a new criminal offence will be included in the bill to allow the authorities to fine or imprison landlords who fail to check the immigration of their tenants.
A scheme in which landlords can check the immigration status of tenants is currently being piloted in the West Midlands. It will be rolled out to the rest of the country. Under the Right to Rent scheme, landlords will have to see evidence of a person's right to remain in the UK by examining their passport or biometric residence permit.
The legislation will create a blacklist of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents to allow local councils to know where to concentrate their enforcement action. "We are determined to crack down on rogue landlords," Clark said, according to The Guardian.
"We are determined to crack down on rogue landlords who make money out of illegal immigration – exploiting vulnerable people and undermining our immigration system."
This includes ensuring that landlords meet their "basic responsibilities" and taking a hard stance against those who rent out "dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties."
Move aimed at discouraging migrants from heading for the UK
The newspapers said the move is part of the government's initiative to discourage migrants from leaving their home countries to head for Britain by showing that it will not be easy for them to remain in the country if their asylum applications are rejected.
In a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph, Home Secretary Teresa May and her French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve effectively sent a message to would-be migrants that they will not necessarily face a warm welcome.
They warned that the world is facing a global migration crisis and will continue to offer refuge to those fleeing conflict or persecution but added that it was important to break the link between "crossing the Mediterranean and achieving settlement in Europe."
"Many see Europe, and particularly Britain, as somewhere that offers the prospect of financial gain. This is not the case – our streets are not paved with gold."
The BBC reported that Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said over the weekend that he wanted to "send out a very clear message to those who seek to exploit the system that Britain is not a soft tough on asylum."
It notes that the proposals are being put forward as both the UK and France face a growing problem in dealing with the migrant crisis in Calais where large numbers of people continue to try and cross the Channel to reach the UK.