The UK’s National Landlords Association has welcomed new government proposals on immigration that will affect the country’s residential private rented sector.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced a number of proposals to be tabled in a new immigration bill which will be a central part of the new Government programme to be announced in the Queen’s speech, next week.
They include new powers for councils to crack down on unscrupulous landlords, allowing landlords to evict illegal migrants more quickly and a nationwide Right to Rent scheme.
The announcement also includes a new mandatory licensing regime and there will be a consultation on cancelling tenancies when visas expire.
‘We welcome the initiative taken by government to tackle the problem of criminals acting as private landlords to exploit illegal migrants,’ said Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive officer.
But he pointed out that it important that councils are given the necessary funding to ensure that they can enforce these powers effectively. ‘This would help drive up standards in the sector and send a powerful message to criminals. One of the fundamental reasons that a minority of criminal landlords are able to get away with providing poor living conditions is that councils do not have the resources to make use of their already significant powers,’ Lambert explained.
‘We would like to see the Treasury allow councils to keep the proceeds of the fines from prosecutions so that councils have both the powers and finances for enforcement, without going cap in hand to the Treasury,’ he added.
The NLA is also pleased that the government has given landlords the ability to deal quickly with illegal migrants and Lambert said he hopes this deters those that want to stay in the UK illegally.
‘We are, however, a little concerned regarding the Right to Rent scheme. Landlords are happy to help to check that tenants are who they claim to be. However this should not be a way for the Government to pass the buck on to landlords when tacking illegal immigration,’ Lambert said.
‘We hope, before the scheme is rolled out nationally, that the Government take the time to review how the first phase in the West Midlands has worked and draws on the lessons from that, rather than ploughing ahead regardless,’ he added.
He also said that the introduction of a new mandatory licensing regime also raises concerns. ‘We are therefore urgently seeking clarification on whether this would be new policy or related to the current licensing schemes,’ said Lambert.