Housing and immigration. Bombshells and bombast

In a speech timed to hide the release of the latest figures on net migration, the Prime Minister made an assortment of announcements on forthcoming policies.

The part that concern us here, went as follows:

There are other ways we can identify those who shouldn’t be here, for example through housing. For the first time we’ve had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly.

We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point.

The unsurprising part is the commitment to roll out the ‘right to rent’ nationally from the West Midlands pilot (even though no evaluation of the pilot has yet taken place). We originally called this legislation ‘odious and badly thought out‘. Now it is to be a national, odious and badly thought out scheme.

The rest, however, contains some bombshells and some incredibly stupid ideas.

No-one, least of all the landlord organisations, foresaw the introduction of mandatory licensing for landlords. Nor, it appears, did the housing minister, Brandon Lewis, who just the day before rejected ‘unnecessary and expensive regulation on the private rented sector‘. Obviously, a lot will depend on the detail, but in itself, this is not an odious plan.

And what to make of ‘quicker’ evictions? Let alone a proposed complete rewriting of the fundamental tenets of landlord and tenant law by creating ‘conditional’ tenancies, that automatically end on a condition being met (or not met)? It may be that these bright ideas quietly wither and die once someone figures out what an utter mess implementing them would turn out to be.

Still, anyone expecting housing law to be relatively quiet in this parliament has just been disabused of the idea.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Assured Shorthold tenancy, Housing law - All, Possession, Regulation and planning and tagged , , .

8 Comments

  1. Quicker evictions would be welcome. However the main delay in the process are the courts and bailiffs… Is the government planning additional resources there? Hum, quite the opposite apparently.

    The rest is indeed stupid, including the ‘right to rent’, and political posturing to look tough on immigration…

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  3. Well that’s another stupid policy that the Lib Dems apparently blocked that is now being brought forward. I wonder how many that is in a period of 3 weeks.

    I look forward to this mess and will look to book some courses on immigration rules.

    What happens if there is a period where their visa runs out but then they obtain a different right to reside? Is the tenancy terminated? What if it is just a delay on the part of the Home office in processing paperwork (I know the Home office is the most efficient and competent authority there is in the world).

    What if the Home office makes an unlawful decision, does the tenancy still terminate?

    Would this raise issues under the human rights act? Judicial review of immigration decision causing delays in evictions?

    I, of course, assume that the Government will want the Courts to make possession orders. Although I do note that we have been a passively tolerant society allowing people to do what they want as long as they obey the law.

    I dread to think of the problems that could happen if the landlord also has some hold over the persons immigration status as well, perhaps as their employer. Bring a claim for non payment of wages and I’ll terminate your employment (which revokes your immigration status), which will make you homeless as well.

    We can only hope that the judiciary saves people from the Government’s incompetence.

    I think licencing might be a good idea. I however would licence properties not landlords. Have the landlords pay a fee for an inspection to make sure that it the property is up to code.

    I say this on the basis that even a licenced landlord can be bad, but a property that is licenced will remain in a reasonable state for a period of time even with no work done to it.

  4. Quicker evictions? Good luck with that.

    I remember when the accelerated possession scheme was introduced. I believe that was supposed to speed up the process, but it’s one of those tricky words beginning with “A”, (affordable, austerity, etc.), they don’t always mean what the dictionary would lead you to expect.

    Licensing is OK. But getting landlords to enforce immigration law, I’d prefer if they got the 33% of private sector landlords to make their properties comply with the government’s fitness standard.(See English Housing Survey Feb 2014).

    Only 257 weeks to the next election.

  5. I don’t get it sorry as it seems to suggest a mandatory licensing regime will prevent landlords from only housing illegal immigrants. So Mr Landlord gets a licence for his house from? Local authority? And the fact that he now has a licence will prevent him from filling the house with illegal immigrants. I can see how right to rent would go some way to prevent this but unless I am missing something I cannot see mandatory licensing will

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  7. Interesting to see what becomes of this scheme. I am a bit worried as there hasn’t been any evaluation or review or the West Midland Pilot before pushing this nation wide.

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