Controversial new rules which will require private landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants will be piloted in December, the Government has confirmed.
Proprietors in Birmingham and the Black Country will be the first who have to get to grips with the new legislation, which requires them to ask for proof of a person’s identity and citizenship.
Failure to carry out the necessary checks – which are designed to make life more difficult for illegal immigrants – could see landlords slapped with fines of up to £3000.
The Home Office said that the West Midlands had been chosen for the first phase of the roll-out because of the region’s diverse housing stock.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: “The right to rent checks will be quick and simple, but will make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here.
“They will also act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out substandard, overcrowded and unsafe accommodation.
“Landlords in the West Midlands will have all the advice and support they need in advance of the checks going live on December 1st.”
Officials expect that the new system, one of several immigration reforms passed by Parliament earlier this year, will be introduced across the UK during the course of 2015.
Although the forthcoming General Election adds an element of uncertainty, particularly if Labour – who previously described the compulsory checks as “unworkable”– wins a majority.