Birmingham & Black Country

West Midlands landlords concerned over 'right to rent' plans

To Let signs adorn houses in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Private landlords in Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham were part of the trial

Landlords in the West Midlands have raised concerns about plans to make them evict tenants who lose the right to live in the UK.

The so-called Right to Rent policy to tackle illegal immigration has been trialled in the region, with plans to roll it out nationally.

Critics say "legitimate immigrants" could find themselves refused homes due to landlords' fears over penalties.

The Home Office says "there are no indications" of unfair checks so far.

Since December 2014, private landlords in five council areas - Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham - have been part of a trial in which they were required to conduct checks to establish that new tenants had the right to rent in the UK. Landlords on the wrong side of the law could face penalties of up to £3,000.

'More awkward'

The trial is to be expanded nationally in the upcoming Immigration Bill.

Andy Burton, a Black Country landlord with 30 years' experience, who has created four tenancies for foreign nationals since 1 December, said the burden to check paperwork made it "more awkward for responsible landlords to do business".

He believed new legislation would make it "likely legitimate immigrants would be victims of an overreaction" by landlords refusing them homes.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said the trial had been a success, although he could not say how many people had been deported as a direct result.

Mary Latham, West Midlands representative for the National Landlords Association said the aim was to tackle "beds in sheds" landlords who crammed illegal immigrants into overcrowded spaces. But she said that existing legislation was not being enforced to prevent that.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Right to Rent is not designed to be a money-making scheme or to catch out honest landlords. Instead, we want to help landlords carry out the proper checks and deter those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK."

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