UK news: Tenants without passports ‘struggle to access rented housing’

uk passportBritish nationals without a passport face difficulties accessing rented accommodation after the UK government made landlords responsible for carrying out illegal migrant checks, according to a new survey.

The Residential Landlords Association, which represents 48,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales, found that 43 per cent of landlords said that they were less likely to rent to those who do not have a British passport because of the fear of criminal sanctions for getting it wrong. According to the 2011 census, 17 per cent of people in England and Wales did not have a passport.

Nearly two-thirds of landlords said that they were less likely to rent to those who only have permission to stay in the UK for a limited period of time and 56 per cent are less likely to rent to people coming from outside the EU or EEA.

The survey was carried out to assess the impact of the Right to Rent scheme introduced across England by the Home Office in February. The scheme has yet to be introduced in Scotland or Wales.

The survey found also that 63 per cent of landlords are worried that they will make a mistake or be caught out by forged documents and be unfairly fined. Just 13 per cent reported having found the Home Office’s Advice Line helpful to them.

With immigrants more likely to be in private rented housing than any other tenure, the RLA is calling for swift clarity about the status of EU nationals living in the UK to avoid landlords becoming nervous about continuing to rent to them for fear about what their status may be.

The RLA is calling also for the publication of clear guidance from the Director for Public Prosecutions to provide much greater assurance that landlords who are seeking to do the right thing, but get caught by forged documents, will not face sanctions.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “These survey findings confirm our fears. Those who cannot easily prove their right to live in the UK, whether they are British or not, are finding it harder to access homes to rent. This is particularly concerning for those UK nationals without a passport, many of them the most vulnerable in society.

“Landlords are quite reasonably becoming ultra-cautious to avoid tough criminal sanctions and need reassurance that they will not be punished when they get fooled by false documents. They are not trained immigration officers.”

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