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Right To Rent: Peer accuses government of hypocrisy over migrant checks

A Liberal Democrat peer has accused the government of being “a bit rich” in its willingness to jail letting agents or landlords for housing an illegal immigrant while the presence of that person is down to “the government’s failure” in protecting UK borders.

Baroness Hamwee, writing on the Politics Home website, says Right To Rent “turns landlords and agents into immigration officers” and criticises the government for rolling out the scheme across England while the pilot in the West Midlands was still underway. 

“It could hardly be said that the pilot was of adequate size, or a representative sample, and that the scheme does not make discrimination all too easy” she says. 

“The great majority of landlords, owning one or two properties, are amateurs who let out a property to supplement pensions or top up salaries. It is these landlords who are likely to be caught out” she insists.

She says it is not only migrants who may be discriminated through this legislation. 

“The 12 million Britons who do not have a passport will find it difficult to prove their right to live in their own country, like all the non-British residents who have a legitimate right to be here but whose documentation is not easily identified” she says. The government’s helpline to avoid problems of this kind is open only during weekday office hours, she says.

“It is likely that the extra administration costs (created by a government keen on deregulation) will be passed on to tenants. The government’s own estimates indicate that this will amount to an extra cost to tenants of £17.9m over 10 years” she says. 

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