The Liberal Democrats have rallied behind their leader, Tim Farron, to try to kill off the controversial Right to Rent plans that will force landlords to conduct checks on their prospective tenants to make sure they are not residing in the UK illegally. If they are, landlords must report them to the Home Office.
The penalty for breaking the rules is a fine of up to £3,000, or face jail.
In a statement released by Farron, he echoed what many critics of the proposals have said, bluntly stating that the government “are trying to turn landlords into free labour for the immigration service.”
He went on to say that Right to Rent “is the worst kind of ineffectual, dog whistle politics that this government has become synonymous with. The Liberal Democrats in both the House of Commons and Lords have tabled motions to try and kill this plan outright.”
While he agrees with the government’s aim – to tackle illegal immigration and the criminality associated with it – he believes their policy will do more harm than good, for both tenants and landlords.
The main criticism coming from both the Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs is the concern that the proposals could lead to widespread discrimination. In the six-month pilot conducted in the West Midlands, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants claim that the checks resulted in discrimination against people with “foreign accents, foreign names, and those without British passports.”
However, an evaluation by the Home Office claims to have found “no evidence” that tenants from minority backgrounds were less likely to secure a tenancy that white people.