The Home Office has announced that the West Midlands will serve as a test site for phase one of the controversial “right to rent” scheme, which will make private landlords legally responsible for ensuring their new tenants have the legal right to reside in the UK.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has congratulated the decision to run the scheme in a high immigration area before rolling it out across the rest of the country, as this will provide evidence of whether or not it is workable.
The Home Office has promised a landlord-checking service. They say it will respond within two days to an enquiry.
The decision on whether or not to cancel the rest of the scheme across the rest of the UK will be taken after the general election in May 2015. However, the phased introduction of checks is expected to continue next year.
From the start of December, landlords in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall, and Sandwell will have to ask their prospective tenants for proof of identity and citizenship. Copies of documents must be stored for 12 months after the tenancy ends. Under 18s are exempted from checks.
Although several industry bodies have strongly opposed the introduction of these checks, immigration minister James Brokenshire insists the checks will be “quick and simple.”