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UK landlords may end up only renting to white tenants with British names
The new requirements – which are trialled in the west Midlands from Monday – are part of the Government’s attempts to cut down on migrants coming to the UK.
Landlords who let out a second home are likely only to rent to “white tenants with British-sounding names” to avoid immigration red tape, campaigners have warned.
Almost two million buy-to-let property owners will be responsible for checking the immigration status of potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law.
The new requirements – which are now on trial in the west Midlands – are part of the Government’s attempts to cut down on migrants coming to the UK. Landlords in five council areas - Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton - will need to take copies of all adult passports or residence permits. Failure to do this could mean a fine of up to £3,000.
The measures have already prompted questions about whether ordinary people are being made responsible for policing the immigration system after repeated failures by the UK Border Agency.
In a letter to The Telegraph, the group of campaigners said that landlords were being “conscripted” as “border guards”.
The signatories include Alex Hilton, the Director of Generation Rent, Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party and Graham Jukes, Chief Executive Officer, Chartered Institute for Environmental Health.
They argue that the change “will drive discrimination, encouraging otherwise fair-minded landlords and agents to let to white tenants with British sounding names, just to reduce the likelihood of additional bureaucracy from the Home Office”.
The legislation has been drawn up as the Coalition struggles to contain the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party, which has wooed voters with its hard-line immigration policies.
The Home Office has said that it will evaluate the pilot scheme in the Spring before a wider roll-out next year.
James Brokenshire, Immigration and Security Minister, said: “We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law.
“The right to rent checks will be quick and simple, but will make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here.
“They will also act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out overcrowded and unsafe accommodation."