Racist threat from new landlords law
NEW IMMIGRATION laws could provide a charter for racist landlords, the Bishop of Newcastle has warned.
The Immigration Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, will require landlords to check the paperwork of all tenants and lodgers to make sure they are legally allowed to remain in the UK.
Landlords who fail to comply could face fines of up to £3,000 per illegal immigrant they have housed.
Bishop Wharton said: “One of my concerns about this part of the Bill is that many landlords will simply not rent to anyone who seems to be foreign or who does not hold a British passport for fear of getting it wrong and being fined.
“I am afraid that that will inadvertently result in further racial discrimination and provide a charter for those unscrupulous landlords who are racist.”
He said in response to a consultation on the proposals the Government had accepted that the new rules might provoke landlords to discriminate against people they perceived to be foreign rather than conduct proper checks.
He questioned whether the guidance to be given to landlords telling them to obey the UK’s equality legislation was enough.
“It simply requires landlords to read the code and adhere to it without any redress at all if they do not,” he said during committee stage debate on the Bill.
“Moreover, it will be extremely difficult and costly for any potential tenant to bring a challenge of discrimination or victimisation against a private landlord.
“If people cannot rent relatively easily, they will be forced to seek accommodation in the more shadowy parts of the housing market.”
But Home Office minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach drew a parallel with the checks employers have to carry out and suggested there was not “widespread evidence of racial discrimination” in the workplace as a result.
“I think it is to the great credit of this country that it is able to welcome people, and this is certainly not a Bill that is designed to make people unwelcome, as long as they have a right to come here and to remain here,” he told Bishop Wharton.