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Immigration Bill puts vulnerable migrants at risk.
UK Government plans to force landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants could push vulnerable migrants towards illegal and unscrupulous landlords.
Minister for Housing and Welfare Margaret Burgess has written to UK Government Immigration Minister James Brokenshire to express concerns about the roll out of the Immigration Act 2014 to Scotland and the linked Immigration Bill 2015, which was introduced to Westminster earlier this month.
Already piloted in parts of England, the 'right to rent' compels private landlords to establish a person's legal status before they can offer a tenancy. The Immigration Bill introduces substantial penalties for landlords who fail to comply and compels landlords to evict illegal tenants, pursing them through the courts if necessary.
The letter also expressed concerns that the Bill allows UK Government ministers to extend these measures to Scotland without consulting the Scottish Parliament.
Mrs Burgess said:
"These proposals are deeply flawed and risk driving vulnerable people, who have the right to remain in the UK, into the hands of illegal and unscrupulous landlords.
"We are committed to creating a fairer Scotland, where we provide protection, safety and security to those who need it most and this Bill runs contrary to those aims. I have several significant concerns that need to be addressed and have therefore written to Mr Brokenshire to request a meeting to discuss the impact of these proposals on Scotland.
"This legislation risks driving vulnerable migrants to rent from landlords who are happy to flout the law. Landlords will also be required to pursue legal proceedings against someone who does not have the right to remain in the UK, which is surely the role of the Home Office and Border Agency, and not private individuals or businesses.
"Finally, the legislation allows for the measures on residential tenancies to be brought into effect in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. I urgently wish to clarify the UK Government's intentions on this issue and clarify if it intends to introduce the "right to rent" scheme in Scotland even if it is against the will of the Scottish Parliament."