A controversial 'right to rent' policy was approved by Government ministers in a new crackdown on immigration despite results from a trial showing it to be ineffective, it has emerged.
The measure, announced on Monday in response to the problem of migrants attempting to reach Britain from Calais, means landlords could be fined £3,000 per tenant or jailed for up to five years if they rent to illegal immigrants.
It has been trialled in the West Midlands since last December, in what the Department of Communities and Local Government describes as a “successful pilot scheme.”
Yet the results have been far from impressive, according to a Home Office response to a Freedom of Information request.
A grand total of seven landlords have been fined - around £800 on average - for failing to check their tenants had permission to be in Britain. And eleven illegal immigrants were found renting properties.
Research conducted during the pilot discovered that in four out of ten cases migrants were denied the opportunity to rent homes offered to Britons, according to The Economist.
The news has prompted calls for the new policy to be scrapped. “The Government now needs to immediately stop the pilot running in the West Midlands and withdraw plans to roll the policy out across England,” said a spokesperson for the Migrants Rights Network.
And David Smith, policy director, Residential Landlords Association, said: “The government has not presented any evidence that landlords are directly involved in housing people they know to be illegal immigrants...Any decision on roll out should await the publication of the West Midlands evaluation.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The evaluation of Right to Rent is currently being completed, but there are no indications so far to suggest landlord checks are being carried out unfairly.
“Right to Rent is not designed to be a money-making scheme or to catch out honest landlords. Instead, we want to help landlords carry out the proper checks so that those who do not have the right to be in the UK cannot access rented accommodation.
“We do not recognise figures suggesting only half of landlords checked potential tenants’ right to rent.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies