Monday, 30 March 2015

Waiting list limits could aid rogue landlords

Private landlords have warned that plans to restrict immigrants’ access to social housing could drive vulnerable people into the hands of criminal gangs.

Umbrella body the Residential Landlords Association said proposals to require people to demonstrate a local connection before going on waiting lists for social housing would increase opportunities for rogue landlords by putting pressure on the private rented sector.

Chairman Alan Ward said: ‘These measures will put extra pressure on the private rented sector and provide opportunities for low-grade landlords and criminal elements to exploit immigrants.’

Prime minister David Cameron has announced today that ministers will introduce statutory guidance for councils requiring them to change their allocation policies to state only people who have been resident in the area for at least two years can go on the housing waiting list. Exceptions will be made for members of the armed forces.

The government is also introducing a requirement for private landlords to check tenants are entitled to be in the UK. The Communities and Local Government department will consult on the proposals.

Jonathan Glanz, cabinet member for housing at Westminster Council, welcomed the plans.

‘We have about a third of people on our current list who have effectively little or no connection with Westminster. The current law allows that after six months of “sofa surfing” or claiming to be living in Westminster, they have a right to join the list – and clearly once they are on it, they have the same opportunity as people who have been here for very much longer,’ he said.

‘We haven’t enforced a residency test before because it’s not been possible.’

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