Landlords are growing concerned about the proposed Immigration Bill, according to research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). Worry is mounting about responsibilities under the changes and even experienced landlords are uneasy about the proposals. If passed the bill will put landlords in charge of checking the immigration status of prospective tenants. However, 55.2 per cent are not confident about their ability to do this and 21.8 per cent don't know if they would be able to make the checks. Only 22.9 per cent are confident in their ability.
Ian Potter, ARLA managing director, said: "Checking the immigration status of prospective tenants is a sensitive and potentially lengthy task. It’s perhaps not surprising that even experienced landlords are concerned about exercising these new duties. While landlords recognise a degree of responsibility for this issue, the sheer variety of documentation alone adds a new layer of complexity to the whole process. It is essential that landlords collaborate with the government where possible to ensure the final Immigration Bill is workable when passed."
This is not the first time concern over the new bill has been aired. Those in the buy-to-let sector claim there will be considerable cost and administrative implications attached to the changes. Indeed, smaller agents will be forced to recruit extra staff to deal with the additional workload, while private landlords will be forced to add extra costs onto tenants to carry out the process.
Jane Clutton, Head of Litigation at Legal 4 Landlords, claims if the bill is passed, landlords and letting agents will need official advice, training and support. When put into context, the recruitment process for an immigration officer can take between three and five months. There is also additional training that takes place after this. What's more, there are questions over what would happen if a tenant was found to be in the country illegally. If an agent or landlord gets things wrong, implications could be severe, including lawsuits from would-be tenants.
- Thursday 02 January 2014