More generally, the majority, some 82%, think it is fair that tenants should be required to provide evidence of their immigration status. In contrast, the research also found that some 18% of tenants do not want to share their immigration status with their landlord.
This research coincides with the NLA’s response to the government’s consultation on tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation. In its formal response, the NLA welcomed the plans for private landlords to play an integral role in developing and maintaining sustainable communities and thus the recognition of the significant function performed by the private rented sector.
However, the NLA raised a number of concerns to be addressed before the policy can become a practical reality. It said that the expectation that landlords should carry out periodic checks throughout the term of a tenancy is unrealistic and that on going checking should remain the responsibility of the appropriate authorities and the duty to report overstaying households could present a distinct danger to landlords in a small but significant number of instances.
It also said that the system must be made clear, accessible and easy to comply with. Doubt about requirements or uncertainty about how to comply may result in landlords favouring applications for accommodation from households which are easier to verify. This would be unhealthy for the diversity of communities, the private rented sector and the perception of private landlords and could lead to further shortages of available housing.
It also pointed out that private landlords tend to interview prospective tenants in the properties they wish to let so they may have reduced access to office equipment such as photocopiers and fax machines. The NLA suggests that these limitations must be taken into account when devising guidance and support materials.
‘It is reassuring that the majority of tenants are comfortable with the concept of expanded tenant checks, in particular immigration checks. Tenant checking is an essential process for assessing the potential risk of default and we advise all landlords to conduct such checks before granting a tenancy,’ said Carolyn Uphill, NLA chairman.
‘However it is also somewhat concerning that 18% of tenants do not want to share their immigration status with their landlord. It is essential that all tenants comply with the rules, when introduced. And if landlords are to be held responsible for non-compliance, they must not let property to those who refuse to follow the imminent legislation,’ she explained.
‘I hope that our response to the consultation will ensure the government considers the practicalities of immigration checks before the legislation is passed,’ she added.
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