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Experts warn of discrimination against international students

International students could face even more discrimination, as new government rules oblige letting agents and landlords to check the migrant status of tenants.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has joined forces with the National Union of Students in conducting these Right To Rent checks, piloted in the West Midlands since the start of December. At the moment it is uncertain as whether these checks will roll out across the rest of the United Kingdom.

Letting agents or landlords now need to see documentation, such as a passport or Home Office documentation to ensure that the tenant is legally entitled to reside, or study, in the UK. Failure to check such documentation could result in a £3,000 fine.

However, it is claimed that there is evidence to suggest that this could cause problems for prospective renters. Tenants are now being charged an extra £100 in admin fees, and landlords admit they are less likely to offer a viewing to anyone needing time to produce their paperwork. One American tenant stated her British husband was able to secure viewings for properties she had been told were unavailable.

In cases where a passport cannot be produced, landlords can request further checks on a person’s right to be in the UK from the government.

These fears are the latest addition to a list of new rules which are believed to discriminate against international students and have been introduced in the coalition government over the past parliamentary term.

In January, Concrete reported on the backlash against Theresa May after her plans to force international students out of the country after graduation were blocked.

Peter Davis from the Eastern Landlords Association has condemned the new law and has claimed that it is unfair to landlords: “With regard to the Right to Rent checks; we have always encouraged our members to undertake checks on all perspective tenants. With the pending legislation on immigration, we know landlords have mixed views on that. It seems like a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – why should landlords be doing the jobs of the border control?

“If they are doing their job properly as responsible landlords why do we need more legislation?…we are totally against the immigration act. Certainly in a city like Norwich, the whole business about making it more difficult for foreign students is absolutely ridiculous”.

However, he also claimed that discrimination from landlords against international students in Norwich has always existed: “Certainly landlords unfortunately will be, by the nature of demand – particularly in somewhere like Norwich – picky and choosey about tenants. I have heard of landlords who won’t rent to you even if you have a foreign sounding name – they will move on to the next person called ‘Smith’. We totally discourage international students could face even more discrimination, as new government rules oblige letting agents and landlords to check the migrant status of tenants.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has joined forces with the National Union of Students in conducting these Right To Rent checks, piloted in the West Midlands since the start of December. At the moment it is uncertain as whether these checks will roll out across the rest of the United Kingdom.

Letting agents or landlords now need to see documentation, such as a passport or Home Office documentation to ensure that the tenant is legally entitled to reside, or study, in the UK. Failure to check such documentation could result in a £3,000 fine.

However, it is claimed that there is evidence to suggest that this could cause problems for prospective renters. Tenants are now being charged an extra £100 in admin fees, and landlords admit they are less likely to offer a viewing to anyone needing time to produce their paperwork. One American tenant stated her British husband was able to secure viewings for properties she had been told were unavailable.

In cases where a passport cannot be produced, landlords can request further checks on a person’s right to be in the UK from the government.
These fears are the latest addition to a list of new rules which are believed to discriminate against international students and have been introduced in the coalition government over the past parliamentary term.

In January, Concrete reported on the backlash against Theresa May after her plans to force international students out of the country after graduation were blocked.
Peter Davis from the Eastern Landlords Association has condemned the new law and has claimed that it is unfair to landlords: “With regard to the Right to Rent checks; we have always encouraged our members to undertake checks on all perspective tenants. With the pending legislation on immigration, we know landlords have mixed views on that. It seems like a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – why should landlords be doing the jobs of the border control?

“If they are doing their job properly as responsible landlords why do we need more legislation?… We are totally against the immigration act. Certainly in a city like Norwich, the whole business about making it more difficult for foreign students is absolutely ridiculous”.

However, he also claimed that discrimination from landlords against international students in Norwich has always existed: “Certainly landlords unfortunately will be, by the nature of demand – particularly in somewhere like Norwich – picky and choosey about tenants. I have heard of landlords who won’t rent to you even if you have a foreign sounding name – they will move on to the next person called ‘Smith’. We totally discourage this, but they are running a business so they may be inclined to choose the easy option, same with any business.
In November, Concrete reported on the case of Amara Bangura who was denied accommodation in Norwich because he comes from Ebola-hotspot Sierra Leone, despite showing no symptoms of the disease.

Stella Glakousaki, International Students Officer at the Union of UEA Students, said: “Housing has always been a big issue for International and EU students. Myself along with many other EU and international students, have to pay our rent for a year or in some lucky cases, 6 months in advance. That is when of course a student doesn’t have a guarantor; but most international students don’t have guarantors in UK. I know NUS closely monitor the new scheme in the Midlands, and finding will be come public once identified.
“UK has indeed starting appearing not the right place to go and study, in terms of financial matters”.

She continued: “For International students who have to pay from £14000 pounds a year, there has been a lot of discussions that they would have rather gone to USA. And I think the numbers possibly show that.

“Giving again the currency fluctuation $30000 as fees are almost the same as £14000 fees. But everyday life expenses are far more cheaper. And also in USA you have more choices”.

14/04/2015

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