I want to alert landlords to a disturbing trend that has hit European landlords and could hop the pond. Probably in response to refugees and/or immigrants, England passed, as part of its Immigration Act of 2014, a law known as “right to rent“. I know, my readers are already thinking – this must be a pro-tenant law. Maybe a tenant’s bill of rights or something like that? Nope. Just the opposite. Instead, English landlords are being required to perform what amount to immigration checks on their tenants.
Beginning on February 1, 2016, all private landlords in England will be required to check to see if their tenants have a right to reside in the United Kingdom before leasing their rental property. Failure to do so will subject the landlord to a penalty (a fine of up to £3000 or about $4300). The law requires landlords to check a tenant’s identity documents and to keep copies. The landlord also has to check all of the occupants in the property. The landlord is actually charged with a duty to “check that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant with the tenant present”. They also have to check if the property is used as the tenant’s only or main home. These rules also apply to tenants who are sub-leasing their property. If a landlord finds that a tenant is not legally allowed in the country, the landlord has an obligation to “notify the home office” and to evict the tenant. To make matters worse, the government is working on rules that will put landlords in jail for up to five years if they fail to check immigration status.
So, basically, England is making landlords into immigration agents. They are making private property owners check visa status and rat out illegals to the government. They are foisting a government duty on the landlord. What? Ridiculous? Yep. Couldn’t happen here in America? Think again.
We already have a form of law just like this one that affects landlords in this country. It is in the form of the anti-crime leasing addendum laws. Many municipalities have laws that require landlords to evict tenants who engage in criminal activity. I’ve commented on the unfairness of these laws before. They are a pathetic attempt by the government to shift police powers to the landlords. Its a huge win for government. They get to have every landlord work as a police officer for them for free. Even better, many of these laws require landlords to pay to participate in a training session. Utter nonsense. But, it is a sign of the times and a trend that is likely to continue.