David Camerons speech on immigration last week announced some surprising and unwelcome news about extending the mandatory licensing regime. Funnily enough this wasnt in the Conservatives manifesto during the election.

David Camerons speech on immigration last week announced some surprising and unwelcome news about extending the mandatory licensing regime.  Funnily enough this wasnt in the Conservatives manifesto during the election.

There are other ways we can identify those who shouldn’t be here, for example through housing. For the first time we’ve had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly.

We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point. It’s not just through housing and jobs; we can track down illegal migrants through the banking system too.

Residential Landlords Association

The RLA (Residential Landlords Association) reported today that they understand that the new Conservative Government plans to extend the scope of the mandatory licensing regime to tackle illegal immigration.

In a speech last week, Prime Minister David Cameron called for a new licensing scheme to tackle landlords who “cram” their houses full of illegal immigrants and powers to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants in private rented housing. There was widespread concern that this meant that a new licensing scheme would be introduced for all landlords in England.

Queens Speech

While there were no new details in the Queen’s Speech today, the RLA now has information that, in addition to rolling out the ‘right to rent’ checks currently being piloted in the West Midlands, mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) under the Housing Act 2004 will be changed.  This could mean lowering the threshold of number of people sharing a property, removing the three storey requirement, or both. Currently mandatory licensing applies where an HMO is on 3 storeys AND has at least 5 residents.

While seeming to dispel concerns over a general, national landlord licensing requirement, a great many homes and landlords not currently covered by local additional licensing schemes could find themselves caught under a new mandatory scheme. This will also place local authorities under substantial pressure as they will have to process the large number of applications for new licences, assess the properties and carry out further enforcement against those who have not sought licences.

Given that, as the RLA has highlighted, current enforcement is often patchy a new further area of enforcement work may make the situation worse rather than better.