Immigration Bill eviction measures ‘should not be extended to Scotland’
The Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland has added its voice to growing concerns over the potential impact of the UK government’s 2015 Immigration Bill on migrants living in the private rented sector.
Already piloted in parts of England, the ‘right to rent’ compels private landlords to establish a person’s legal status before they can offer a tenancy. The Immigration Bill introduces substantial penalties for landlords who fail to comply and compels landlords to evict illegal tenants, pursing them through the courts if necessary.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that the Bill will enable UK ministers to extend the proposed eviction measures to Scotland through secondary legislation.
In response to a question tabled in the Scottish Parliament by John Finnie MSP, Scottish housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “I have written to the minister for immigration making clear my concerns and urging him to amend the Immigration Bill to require the UK Government to seek the consent of this Parliament before it extends the legislation to Scotland.”
The Chartered Institute of Housing has previously raised more general concerns that the Immigration Bill risks increasing discrimination and homelessness and will make it much more difficult for migrants who do have the right to live in the UK to access housing in the private rented sector.
Commenting on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, director Annie Mauger said: “We have consistently voiced concerns about the potential negative impact of this legislation, particularly for documented migrants seeking to access housing in the private rented sector.
“We believe it conflicts with the Scottish Government’s objective to promote fairness and equality in Scottish housing policy and to increase security for the growing number of tenants in the private rented sector.
“The Scottish Parliament must be fully consulted before any moves to extend the proposed eviction measures to Scotland.”
In her letter to UK immigration minister James Brokenshire, Mrs Burgess also expressed concerns that the Bill allows UK government ministers to extend these measures to Scotland without consulting the Scottish Parliament.
Mrs Burgess said: “These proposals are deeply flawed and risk driving vulnerable people, who have the right to remain in the UK, into the hands of illegal and unscrupulous landlords.
“We are committed to creating a fairer Scotland, where we provide protection, safety and security to those who need it most and this Bill runs contrary to those aims. I have several significant concerns that need to be addressed and have therefore written to Mr Brokenshire to request a meeting to discuss the impact of these proposals on Scotland.
“This legislation risks driving vulnerable migrants to rent from landlords who are happy to flout the law. Landlords will also be required to pursue legal proceedings against someone who does not have the right to remain in the UK, which is surely the role of the Home Office and Border Agency, and not private individuals or businesses.
“Finally, the legislation allows for the measures on residential tenancies to be brought into effect in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. I urgently wish to clarify the UK government’s intentions on this issue and clarify if it intends to introduce the ‘right to rent’ scheme in Scotland even if it is against the will of the Scottish Parliament.”