Remove illegals or face up to five years in jail, landlords told
New measures to enable private landlords to evict illegal immigrants without a court order have been announced, in the latest government effort to demonstrate a hard line amid concern about migrants breaching security at the Channel Tunnel.
Landlords who fail to remove illegal immigrants who do not have the right to live in the UK - or who do not carry out checks on their status before renting out properties - could face up to five years in jail, said Communities Secretary Greg Clark.
The measures will be included in the Government's upcoming Immigration Bill, with the aim of making it more difficult for migrants to live in the UK after their visas have expired or applications for asylum have been rejected.
They come hot on the heels of the announcement of UK funding for additional security guards, fencing and CCTV cameras at the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais, where an estimated 5,000 migrants living in a tent city have made nightly attempts to enter the tunnel in the hope of reaching the UK.
The Daily Mail quoted a police chief as saying that seven out of 10 of those trying to get through the tunnel were successful, while the Daily Telegraph reported that Kent Council was spending up to £150 a time on taxis to take migrants aged under 18 to accommodation outside the county.
Sweden's justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson said the situation in Calais showed "a system that is breaking down" and told the BBC that Britain was not taking "the responsibility that they should". Sweden was taking in 1,000-1,200 asylum seekers a week, he said.
Mr Johansson was critical of Mr Cameron's rhetoric on the issue, saying: "I hear what he is saying about 'illegal immigrants' and 'swarms' and I think he is trying to divide people, that that is not a constructive way."
The Prime Minister - who is believed to be starting a family holiday in Cornwall - last week said he expected the disruption in Calais to last all summer.
Under the Immigration Bill measures, which will apply in England, the Home Office will issue a notice confirming tenants no longer have the right to rent property.
This will trigger a power for landlords to end the tenancy, without a court order in some circumstances.
Landlords will also be required to carry out "right to rent" checks on tenants' immigration status before offering a tenancy agreement.
A new criminal offence of repeatedly failing to conduct checks or remove tenants with no right to reside in the UK will carry maximum penalties of five years' imprisonment or a fine.
And a blacklist of "rogue" landlords and letting agents will allow councils to keep track of those who have been convicted of housing offences and ban them from renting out properties if they are repeat offenders.
Measures will also be introduced to crack down on landlords who exploit vulnerable migrants by renting out unfit flats and houses.
Mr Clark said: "We are determined to crack down on rogue landlords who make money out of illegal immigration - exploiting vulnerable people and undermining our immigration system.
"In future, landlords will be required to ensure that the people they rent their properties to are legally entitled to be in the country.
"We will also require them to meet their basic responsibilities as landlords, cracking down on those who rent out dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties."