What’s to stop landlords passing the cost of immigration checks on to already squeezed tenants?

For the sake of appeasing a handful of Tory backbenchers and shoring up the UKIP vote, the government may have just heaped another burden on already hard-pressed tenants.

It will be announced in the Queen’s speech later today that private landlords are to be made legally responsible for ensuring tenants have a legal right to live in the UK before arranging a letting.

Much like the government’s announcement over the weekend on pensions for foreign spouses, this latest policy proposal looks very much like red meat thrown out there by the government to fend of the threat from UKIP.

According to the Telegraph, the level of fines for those landlords which fail to properly check the immigration status of their tenants may run into ‘thousands of pounds’.

What, though, is to stop letting agencies and landlords passing this cost (presumably it costs something to check a person’s immigration status) on to already squeezed tenants?

According to a report which came out in January, rents in England are increasing by an average of £300 a year. As well as making increasingly swaths of the country uninhabitable for all but the most affluent, the cost of rent is also making it harder for young would-be homeowners to save the money to buy their first property.

As far as I can make out, there is nothing to stop landlords and lettings agencies tacking yet another ‘administration fee’ on to the initial cost of securing a tenancy when the government’s latest ‘get tough with the foreigners’ policy comes in.

Checking the immigration status of a tenant will undoubtedly cost landlords and agencies money, but it will almost certainly cost tenants more – much like the ‘administration fee’ levied by lettings agencies (£200 – £400 on average) at present tends to be higher than the cost to the agent of filling out and sending away a couple of forms.

For the sake of appeasing a handful of Tory backbenchers and shoring up the UKIP vote, the government may well have just heaped another burden on already hard-pressed renters.

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