Landlords warn EU citizens could face Windrush repeat after Brexit unless given hard documents
The Government must provide EU citizens with documents proving their right to live in the UK or risk another Windrush-style scandal, a major group representing landlords has said.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which represents more than 30,000 landlords in Britain, has written to Sajid Javid urging him to avoid future confusion and offer a hard document to be used as evidence by renters.
Landlords are bound to check the immigration status of all potential tenants under rules brought in by Theresa May when Home Secretary, and risk prosecution if they fail to do so.
In the letter to the Home Secretary, signed by RLA policy director David Smith, they said: “Without issuing a clear and understandable hard copy document to those whose rights would be protected, there is a very real danger of a repeat of the difficulties caused for many in the Windrush generation who were in the country legally but unable to easily prove it.
“Such a document must be issued now so that, as tenancies come up for renewal between now and next March, landlords can be confident that they can continue to let to EU citizens, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”
The Government faced a major backlash earlier this year when it emerged post-war Caribbean migrants with British citizenship had been swept up in an illegal immigration clampdown.
Those affected by the Windrush scandal lost access to public services and welfare, while 18 were wrongfully removed from the UK or detained.
A Home Office spokesperson said of the RLA-backed letter: “EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society.
“The prime minister and home secretary have been clear that – while we are all working hard towards achieving a deal – in the event of no deal, all EU citizens resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay, their rights will be protected and they will be able to live their lives broadly as they do now.
“In a deal scenario, EU citizens’ rights and entitlements remain unchanged during the implementation period, so they can continue to demonstrate their rights using a passport or national ID card.
“The draft withdrawal agreement also protects EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK before the end of the implementation period and enables them to carry on living here after the implementation period ends.”
SOCIAL CARE WARNING
The warning came as Tory rising star Bim Afolami urged ministers to "look very carefully" at its new immigration plans in a bid to avoid a shortage of social care workers after Brexit.
Theresa May last week unveiled plans for a new post-Brexit migration system that will make it harder for low-skilled European workers, including those working in social care, to move to the UK after it leaves the bloc.
Mr Afolami told the BBC's Westminster Hour: "Frankly, the more we think about this workforce as being low skill the bigger a problem we have.
"This is such a key part of our society, all of us will be touched by this in some way a bit like how all of us are touched by the NHS and I think that we do need to think about it not as a high skill or low skill. We need to have the right people doing the right job from wherever they come from and yes the Government is going to have to look very carefully and make sure we have enough people to cover the workforce."