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.