The imminent trial of the Immigration Act 2014 in the West Midlands has led opponents to warn about the possibilities of discrimination as a result.
Under the new bill, designed to cut-down on the number of illegal migrants living within the U.K, approximately two-million landlords will be forced to check the immigration status of potential tenants. Landlords found to be negligent or simply fail to conduct checks will face fines of up to £3,000.
Five areas have been selected in which the act will be trialed, namely Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
Since its proposal, the Immigration Act has faced opposition from critics believing that the Government was in effect, letting ordinary people police the immigration system.
In a letter to the Telegraph newspaper, a high-profile group of opponents said that landlords were being, ‘conscripted as border guards.’
Campaigners who added their signature to the letter include Director of Generation Rent Alex Hilton, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party and Graham Jukes, CEO of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health. The letter says that the changes will, ‘drive discrimination, encouraging otherwise fair-minded landlords and agents to let to white tenants with British sounding names, just to reduce the likelihood of additional bureaucracy from the Home Office.’
Landlords may end up only renting to white tenant
The Home Office has said it will look at results from the trial period before the scheme is rolled out across the U.K during 2015.
Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire defended the act, saying that the Government is, ‘building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system of flout the law.’
He went on to suggest that, ‘the right to rent checks will be quick and simple,’ but will in turn, ‘make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here.’
Brokenshire also believes that the new regulations will, ‘act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out overcrowded and unsafe accommodation.’