Posted on May 28th 2015
Help us independently evaluate the scheme before the Government rolls it out nationally. See end of article for how to help.
It was unveiled in the Queen’s Speech yesterday that the Government intend to press ahead with a national roll out of the “Right to Rent” checks, making it compulsory for all private landlords in the UK to undertake immigration checks of new tenants. The speech also mentioned new proposals to be introduced to “make it easier to evict illegal immigrants”.
JCWI is extremely concerned that these statements contradict an earlier assurance that an evaluation of the pilot would take place before any decision for a national rollout.
‘Right to Rent’ Checks
Section 20 to 37 of the Immigration Act 2014 contains provisions to make it compulsory for landlords to check the immigration status of all new adult tenants.
A failure to conduct the checks and to provide accommodation to those without leave to remain could lead to a penalty of £1000 per tenant and £80 per lodger, rising to £3000 and £500 for repeated offences by landlords.
The Coalition Government initially agreed to a six month ‘pilot’ of the scheme to run for six months, from December 2014 to May 2015, after which an Advisory Panel set up by the Home Office would produce an evaluation report before any national rollout took place.
The pilot has been run in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall. Since 1 December 2014, landlords and agents in these areas have been required to check the immigration status of all new adult tenants, sub-tenants and lodgers entering into new tenancies to assess whether they have right to rent in the UK.
Home Office Evaluation
In a National Asylum Stakeholder Forum Meeting, held on the 8 December 2014, the Minister for Immigration and Security, James Brokenshire, stated that a clear assessment would be made at the end of the first phase which will inform the subsequent roll out, and that no further decision would be taken until then.
Mr Brokenshire stated that the assessment would involve an Advisory Panel in addition to landlords, local government and voluntary services and that it was essential to get as clear a level of detail as possible of the impact on the scheme in the West Midlands as the outcome will inform subsequent phases of the rollout. This assessment would result in the publishing of a report.
Heading for a national rollout?
However, as the Conservatives now consider themselves free from the ‘shackles’ of a coalition, they are planning to roll out the scheme nationally despite the fact that the evaluation of Phase 1 is yet to be completed.
As David Cameron stated on May 21st 2015:
“For the first time we’ve had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly.”
So where is the ‘clear assessment’ that has informed the Government’s decision to proceed with this scheme? The answer is that no assessment has been completed. The Home Office evaluation report, originally due to be finalised in the spring, has now been extended to the end of the summer at the earliest.
To appease some voters, the Conservatives intend to implement increasingly hostile measures in an effort to appear ‘tough’ on immigration. The Government are ploughing on with the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme regardless of the outcome of the initial rollout so far and, undoubtedly they will leave chaos in their wake.
Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX), coordinated by JCWI, has been working with Shelter, the NUS, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Generation Rent, Coventry Law Centre (Birmingham branch) and other partners throughout the West Midlands, to evaluate the ‘pilot’ independently of the Home Office.
Our aims are:
· To monitor the pilot scheme for discrimination and human rights implications for immigrants, black and ethnic minorities and indigenous people as a result of the scheme.
· To assess the impact on those who become destitute or are subject to exploitation by their landlords.
· To evaluate the efficacy of the scheme and the impact it has on landlords, agents and tenants.
Despite recent comments by the Government indicating that a national rollout will take place regardless of the outcome of their own evaluation, we think it remains vital that an independent evaluation takes place.
We will publish an interim report with the evidence we have received at the end of June 2015. This is to let the Government know the human impact of their policies, which may otherwise be ignored before a national rollout takes place.
Your input is urgently needed!
We need to hear from landlords and tenants to let us know what impact the scheme has had so far.
Your responses are vital to allow us to evaluate the impact of this scheme and prepare an independent report on it.
You can complete the questionnaires directly online by clicking on the links. However, should you wish for a paper copy, you can email us at: MAX@jcwi.org.uk
You can also email the same address with details of your experiences and concerns about the scheme using the subject line ‘Pilot’.
All emails and questionnaire responses will be completely confidential and anonymous and your responses will not be stored beyond the evaluation.