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MPs vote for Right To Rent despite no results from pilot project

The Immigration Bill containing controversial Right To Rent measures has been given a second reading by the House of Commons despite the government repeatedly resisting calls to show the results of the pilot project.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham used the debate to repeatedly request Home Secretary Theresa May to reveal the findings of the government’s assessment of the Right To Rent pilot project, which was conducted in the West Midlands between last December and the summer.

Burnham said landlords were ill-equipped and unwilling to act as border guards when having to check documentation proving the legal status, or otherwise, of prospective tenants who are considering to be migrants.

He claimed this would not only lead to “widespread discrimination” but also to many British prospective tenants being penalised or discriminated against.

Theresa May said the measures embodied in the bill, including the requirement for letting agents or landlords to check the status of migrant tenants, would mean "greater fairness to British citizens and legitimate migrants".

The Bill was given a second reading by 323 votes to 274, so a government majority of 49.

There will now be the committee stage in the Commons, where MPs undertake detailed scrutiny of the plans. The Bill will then return to the Commons for MPs to consider any changes. Once that is completed the bill then goes to the House of Lords, where again it will be debated. 

If Right To Rent remains unchanged within the Bill, agents or landlords will be obliged to check the status of would-be tenants for all new tenancy agreements. 

In most cases this is likely to involve checking the tenant's passport or biometric residents permit; appropriate records need to be kept for up to 12 months after the tenancy ends. Agents or landlords can use an online form submitted to the Home Office, which will provide responses within two working days. 

If the Bill becomes a Law, the rules will also apply to individuals taking in lodgers and also to tenants who sub-let properties. Failure to abide by the regulations will risk a £3,000 fine.

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