Opinion: Immigration checks could make me have second thoughts about renting to myself
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Regulation
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The Immigration Bill, which received its first parliamentary reading this week, will force landlords to quiz new tenants on their nationality and to conduct ongoing checks on their immigration status.
Here Ajay Jagota, of property firm KIS Lettings, writes that such a policy could lead him to having second thoughts about renting to himself.
As a British-born Asian any reports of rogue agents and landlords discriminating against potential tenants because of the colour of their skin make me appalled and angry.
As a landlord, however, my fear is that the hare-brained and unworkable regulations imagined by the Immigration Bill could give cover to racists and open the door to accidental discrimination.
It doesn’t need saying that I, or any other right-thinking agent, would never discriminate on the grounds of race, and any landlord who asked me or any of my staff to do this would be shown the door immediately.
But say the Immigration Bill goes through. If I enquired about one of my properties would I as a landlord think "can I be doing with the headache of risking embarrassing or offending this guy by asking him what nationality he is, chasing him for the right papers, checking they’re authentic and then doing it all again in six months’ time?" My fear is that I might have second thoughts.
A good letting agent takes care of some of the burden, but the law makes landlords, not agents, legally responsible for making sure the immigration checks take place – much like the current law with gas safety certificates. A responsible landlord might end up falling foul of the law because of an administrative error by a third party.
At KIS we’re already preparing for these changes by working with insurance companies to develop insurance policies to make sure our landlords are protected for every eventuality. But the fact is, landlords should not be expected to act as low-cost border guards.