The Government has announced a further crackdown on people without leave to remain, declaring that a forthcoming Immigration Bill will make it even tougher for people to access rental accommodation.
The new proposals suggest that landlords who fail to eject those who do not have the right to live in the UK – or who do not carry out checks on their status before renting out properties – could face up to five years in jail.
Although these new measures are not targeted at refugees or people within the asylum system, the Refugee Council is extremely concerned that such measures will have detrimental and unintended consequences; penalising asylum seekers and refugees who have a legal right to live in the UK.
Landlords are not immigration officials and the types of documentation carried by asylum seekers and refugees is varied and complex.
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “Requiring landlords to check people’s immigration status could have unintended negative consequences on refugees who are legally eligible to rent accommodation.
“These new measures could lead to wrongful denial of access to housing for those with a right to live in the UK, due to fear of sanctions and confusion about unfamiliar identity documents.
“Refugees and asylum seekers came to the UK escaping persecution. It is our responsibility to offer protection and a place of safety, not to discriminate and to marginalise them further.”