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Right to rent: Immigration checks by landlords

Thursday 14-05-2015 - 16:32

The Immigration Act 2014 made it a legal requirement for landlords to check their tenants' immigration status before offering a tenancy agreement. 

While this is currently not applied to all areas, private renters in the West Midlands will need to provide evidence of their citizenship or immigration status to all private tenancy agreements made after 1 December 2014.  This policy was intended to make sure that the tenant has a 'right to rent’ a property, meaning that they are in the country legally as a UK citizen, EU or EEA national or have valid immigration permission to be in the UK. The checks will eventually apply to all private tenants, including UK citizens. Started initially as pilot scheme in the West Midlands, it is now very likely that these checks will now be rolled out nationwide.

We believe that these checks are discriminatory and should be stopped.

Along with leading migrant and housing charities as well as landlord groups, we are concerned that these checks will result in prejudice against a vast number of tenants, from international students and recent migrants, to those from BME backgrounds or different nationalities, with an uncomplicated immigration status. We also don’t believe that any government policy should make people homeless, regardless of their nationality.


What are we doing about it?

The official evaluation of the scheme is now taking place and will be reported to Parliament before the scheme is widened. The Home Office is likely to press ahead with the full roll-out of these checks unless they find evidence of difficulties in the pilot areas.

So far there has been little reaction from agencies, tenants and groups in the pilot area in the West Midlands - which may mean there are no problems, but equally may reflect low awareness of the scheme. It may be the case that many landlords do not know about the checks, or are not bothering to do them- if this is the case we need to collect evidence of it.

We have teamed up with leading organisations such as MAX (Movement against Xenophobia), Shelter, and Generation Rent to gather information on how these checks are impacting all members of the West Midlands community, including Students.

If students at your institution are likely to be tenants or a lodgers living in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley or Wolverhampton, please send them this link to the online survey and ask them to let us know their thoughts. We need to create a strong body of evidence for the Home Office about how this policy is really working.

You might want to circulate an email to your student body with more information about the Right to Rent checks and with a link to survey. We’ve put together a template email which you can download here. We’ve also suggested some tweets and facebook messages to raise awareness and promote the survey.

We’re also interested to hear from Landlords about their experiences of the Right to Rent programme, so if you happen to have contact with landlords in the area, please ask them to fill out the online survey for landlords.

For more information on Right to rent, please visit our advice pages on NUS.org.uk.

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