The Immigration Bill:
and legitimising discrimination
The Immigration Bill 2015 published on 17 September includes measures which force landlords to investigate whether their tenants are legal migrants and could land them with jail sentences of up to 5 years.
The Bill seeks to make eviction from the private rented sector simpler for private landlords if they are housing illegal migrants. Whilst there have been assurances from the Home Office that in Scotland this will include a court or tribunal process, the Bill is silent on this.
It gives the Secretary of State power to amend Scottish housing legislation by regulation rather than subjecting it to full scrutiny and debate by parliament. There are no Scottish details given and no mechanism for debate.
CEO Robert Aldridge said: ‘ The Bill makes landlords liable to imprisonment of up to 5 years for housing illegal migrants, and places a duty on them to be outposts of the Home Office with a duty to investigate the immigration status of their tenants.
‘We already know that there is considerable racial discrimination within the private rented sector. The risk landlords face will mean if there is a choice between someone who looks and sounds Scottish or someone who looks ‘foreign’ they will take the low risk option. By the back door it legitimises direct and indirect discrimination.
‘It poses a risk of identity theft since landlords will be required to keep copies of identity documents of their tenants for a year after they have left the property. Many landlords are not professional and may not be able to guarantee to keep these sensitive documents safe. A few have connections to organised crime, which makes the requirement on identity documents even more concerning.
‘The Bill also poses a risk to homeless people’s access to the private rented sector. Many will simply not have the identity documents required by the legislation. So landlords won’t take the risk of housing them. It will put increased pressure on front line homelessness services who are exempt from the provisions.
‘Landlords may also evict people living with a tenant who is an illegal migrant. This poses a considerable risk to people in shared tenancies, a growing part of the private rented sector for younger people.
‘The legislation does not cover people traffickers who do not charge rent. An unintended consequence will be to give them even greater power over the people they traffic, who will have no option of alternative accommodation.’
Robert Aldridge added ‘The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants conducted an evaluation of the pilot of the legislation in the West Midlands, which bore out many of the concerns highlighted above. An official evaluation of the pilot by the Home Office is ‘with Ministers’ and has not yet been published. It is poor government to press ahead with legislation before you know the outcome of its pilot.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this please contact Robert
National Homelessness conference 2015
Have you booked your place yet? The programme is shaping up to be a great day with lots of exciting topics covered.
Where: Roxburghe Hotel, Edinburgh
When: Thursday 12th November 2015
Other: Lunch and refreshments will be provided
Non Members £225