A scheme designed to make sure landlords check their tenants are legally allowed to live in the UK before letting them sign a lease, which was trialled over the last year, has been labelled discriminatory.
According to a new report released by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the year-long pilot of the rule, which is due to be rolled out nationwide in 2017, shows that private rental market landlords are more likely to discriminate simply because they don't want to fall foul of the law.
In a survey, it found that as many as 51 per cent of landlords said they would be less likely to let their property to someone from another country just to play it safe. Some 48 per cent even said they would not let to anyone without a British passport because they would fear criminal retributions of getting it wrong.
In the year since the pilot scheme was started, as many as 91 landlords have already been handed sanctions for failing to carry out checks correctly.
The main concern from landlord groups is that those operating in the private sector are not qualified to properly assess someone's legal right to be in the country, but they are still being forced to do so simply because they own property.
Clare Higson, a member of the Eastern Landlords Association, said: "How can we, as landlords, ever know really if someone has got the right to rent. Why should we be working as immigration officers when actually we haven’t got a clue and we certainly don’t have any information, or any training?"
She added that many may fall victim to being caught out by false papers and stolen identification because they do not have any experience dealing with immigration documents.
This was a concern shared by the Residential Landlords Association, which said there are as many as 400 documents that could be used, in theory, to show someone has the right to be in the UK, adding that the sheer volume makes it impossible to expect landlords to take responsibility in a fair and accurate way.