Could British Immigration Style Tenant Checks Come to the United States?

Continuing angst over legal and illegal immigration has grown to a fevered pitch in the United States and shows no sign of abating in the coming weeks and months.  In a somewhat related issue Britain responded to illegal immigration challenges via a new policy called “Right to Rent.”

From The Belfast Telegraph (Feb 13, 17):

Right to Rent was rolled out across England last year, requires landlords to establish that tenants have a right to be in the country by taking copies of documents such as passports or identity cards. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states:  “Immigration is a major hot button issue in America as it has been in Britain.  The move to force landlords to check for legal right to be in the country has caused considerable challenge and concern in the UK.”

The Belfast Telegraph conducted research on the new policy and determined that it does, in fact, create significant challenges to landlords.

From the Belfast Telegraph (Feb. 13, 17):

The paper concluded: “The Right to Rent scheme conscripts ordinary members of civil society into the immigration enforcement arm of the Government, and does so in such a crude and ham-fisted fashion that it creates structural incentives for them to discriminate unlawfully against foreigners and ethnic minorities.” (2)

Other papers in the UK have taken note of the challenges with Right to Rent and statistics appear to point toward potential discrimination.

From MorningStarOnline (Jan 23, 17):

Statistics from research into the pilot scheme showed that 42 per cent of landlords admitted they are less likely to consider renting to someone who does not have a British passport, regardless of their actual migration status.

Moreover, a further 25 per cent stated that they would be less likely to open discussions with someone who “had a name which doesn’t sound British” or “had a foreign accent” and 65 per cent of landlords stated that they would be less likely to rent to someone who needs time to provide documentation. (3)

With the dramatic changes that have occurred with the new administration in Washington DC, specifically in its direction toward immigration, it is not impossible that a sudden and dramatic shift in tenant screening, similar to Right to Rent, could occur in the States.

California may be the first state to proactively introduce legislation to prevent an American Right to Rent law.

From CBS Sacramento (Feb 03, 17):

Assemblyman David Chiu’s said … he’s introduced a bill that would prohibit landlords from disclosing information related to tenants’ immigration status. AB291 would also bar them from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities.

The San Francisco Democrat says his bill would eliminate one method President Donald Trump’s administration could use to deport immigrants.  (4)

Almeida states:  “Ultimately a best practice for tenants and landlords is to work with a well-qualified tenant screening agency in order to stay ahead of any potential legislation effecting tenant background checks.” is a third-party tenant screening agency well versed in all aspects of tenant checks and can provide tenant screening packages for properties large and small.



(2)   ibid



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