David Cameron announced a number of proposals to be tabled in a new immigration bill. The details of the Bill, which will be a central part of the new Government programme to be announced in the Queen’s speech, next week, include:
- New powers for councils to crack down on unscrupulous landlords
- To allow landlords to evict illegal migrants more quickly
- To roll out the Right to Rent scheme nationwide
- To introduce a new mandatory licensing regime
- Consulting on cancelling tenancies when visas expire
Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said:
“We welcome the initiative taken by government to tackle the problem of criminals acting as private landlords to exploit illegal migrants.
“However, it is essential 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.
“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.
“We are pleased that the government has given landlords the ability to deal quickly with illegal migrants and hope this deters those that want to stay here 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.
“We also had several questions* regarding the scheme at the outset which still have not been answered. 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.
“The introduction of a new mandatory licensing regime brings up some concern. We are therefore urgently seeking clarification on whether this would be new policy or related to the current licensing schemes.”
****UPDATE: 27 May
After seeking clarification from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the proposal for a mandatory licensing regime relates to homes of multiple occupation (HMOs) or 'shared housing’ only. The proposal is to amend the definition of mandatory licensable HMOs – currently 3 storeys and 5 individuals – and DCLG intend to consult on the proposals before anything is implemented, with exact timeframes yet tbc.
NOTES TO EDITORS: