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This week, James Brokenshire, the UK’s Immigration Minister, announced the full rollout of the Right to Rent scheme. In line with sections 20-37 of the Immigration Act 2014 which contain the specifics of the scheme, heavy restrictions will now be placed on private landlords renting their properties to migrants whose legal status to reside in the UK cannot be verified or is questionable. There has been a lot of debate around whether it is right to place the onus of immigration status checks onto landlords, but the rollout of the scheme is pushing ahead despite concerns from several human rights organisations, as well as the National Association of Landlords.
Although the scheme has already been in effect in the Midlands since earlier this year when the Immigration Act 2014 was ratified into law, it will now become effective throughout the rest of England from the 1st of February 2016. The initial rollout, which included Birmingham, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton, has been tipped as a success for the government, as it has so far seen an estimated 100 illegal immigrants apprehended by authorities from the Midlands region alone.
The scheme was analysed and subjected to evaluation after the initial 6 months of being live by a panel of mixed discipline experts and the full evaluation is available to read on the government website.
In response to some criticisms made initially by the National Association of Landlords when the Right to Rent scheme was first announced, the new Immigration Bill 2015-16 contains additional legal provisions for landlords to help them with evicting illegal immigrants. The Bill also, however, contains stricter measures on landlords who are found to be exploiting illegal immigrants
The government and all relevant immigration authorities maintain that the provisions of the Right to Rent scheme, as well as other provisions being made in the new Immigration Bill, have been put in place to protect vulnerable people coming to the UK from being trapped in poor quality housing. The idea that illegal migrants are being dictated to by unsavoury landlords that are disinterested in their welfare is, unfortunately, nothing new, with increasing press and media coverage of the situations desperate people are left in when coming to the UK illegally. These measures, to those who choose to see the positives, show a willingness on behalf of the government to tackle the treatment of those migrants who are in uninhabitable conditions.
It also shows, however, that the government are determined to tackle illegal immigration in the UK as a whole, and that they are taking clear and decisive action against those who are residing here unlawfully.
If you are unsure of your legal status in the UK and fear that you may face housing troubles because of this, get in touch with one of our solicitors to legitimise your stay in the UK.