Foreign tenants 'being shunned due to Immigration Bill'

by Gary Whittaker

The Immigration Bill is leading to foreign tenants being shunned by some landlords and letting agents. 

This is according to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which has been surveying the impact of the legislation in the West Midlands pilot area, where it has been in force since December. 

As a result of the bill, landlords and letting agents are forced to check that potential tenants have a legal right to live in the UK. Those that fail to comply could be fined up to £3,000 per tenant, depending on the number of offences. 

The JCWI told the Independent the bill has resulted in tenants being charged an additional £100 in administration fees, while landlords have revealed they are less likely to offer people a viewing if it will take them time to gather the necessary paperwork. 

Saira Grant, legal and policy director at the JCWI, warned that it is not only foreign renters who risk being overlooked as a result of the legislation.

"This impacts not only on many migrants but on all those without passports or full birth certificates," she told the newspaper.

It costs more than £70 to buy a passport and Ms Grant suggested many poorer Britons may not be able to afford this expense.

Ben Reeve-Lewis, a London-based council tenancy adviser, told the Independent discrimination is likely when the bill is rolled out in the capital. 

"Landlords tell me that they won’t run the risk of letting to anyone that’s got a foreign accent," he stated.

Meanwhile, Martha Mackenzie, a public affairs officer for Shelter, said that if landlords or letting agents have a choice between someone with an English-sounding name and a foreign-sounding name, they will likely opt for the latter as a result of the bill.

"People who do have a right to rent in the UK will be shut out," she stated.

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18-February-15General Lettings News