Government set to back down on immigrant checks, claim

The Government is set to do a U-turn on plans to force landlords to check their tenants’ immigration status or face fines of up to £3,000.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plans – announced in the Queen’s Speech in May – are in chaos and will have to be dramatically scaled back.

The report says that both Tory and Lib Dem ministers are warning that the proposal risks criminalising many small landlords, and that they should not be treated as an extension of the Border Agency.

A Home Office source confirmed that the legislation was likely to be reined in, and predicted that it would be limited to small-scale pilot schemes before being quietly abandoned.

Under the reforms, all private landlords would have to check the migration status of every tenant – although many would do so through their letting agents.

Tenants would have to produce documents showing they have permission to be in the UK, but critics say there are a large number of different documents which many lay people would not be able to understand.

There have also been concerns about landlords’ ongoing responsibilities for tenants already in their properties, and whose status may have gone from legal to illegal.

Under the proposals, first-time offenders would be fined £1,000 per illegal immigrant in their property.

Landlords who had failed to make proper checks within the last three years would be sent an advisory letter and fined £3,000 per tenant.

However, critics of the scheme have also queried how it could be policed, given the Border Agency’s own record of failings.

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