The duties of landlords

Andy Burnham says the government is wrong to tell landlords not to let property to illegal immigrants.  He thinks landlords should let property to whoever asks to rent, for fear of showing discrimination.

I have owned my own home for most of my adult lifetime, and I do not have a property to let out. I wish to see property to rent, at sensible prices, kept in good repair and made available to any UK legal resident who needs it. By the same reasoning I want to see tenants look after the property they rent, pay their rent on time, and stick to tenancy agreements. It takes a decent landlord and a co-operative tenant to have a good relationship.

Problems arise if either side violates these principles. Bad landlords overcharge on the rent and service charges. They may  fail to maintain the property, might  allow in other tenants who interfere with the neighbours’ peaceful enjoyment of their rented home, could  overcrowd properties, and sometimes terminate tenancy agreements unreasonably or pressurise tenants into leaving. Bad tenants fail to pay their rent on time, may build up arrears, can leave without notice, some damage the property, and or prove to be bad neighbours.

MPs often   receive more complaints and problems to sort out with the minority of properties that are rented  than the majority that are owner occupied. Parliament provides a legal framework to try to regulate the conduct of b0th parties to a tenancy agreement. The state often stands behind the tenant with Housing benefit and other financial support to make it possible for them to afford the rents. The law tries to protect tenants from bad landlords who fail to maintain their properties or to offer the security of tenure the law requires.

Landlords are currently unhappy about tax changes affecting the eligibility of interest on rental properties they have bought with borrowed money. Asking landlords to help police our borders by requiring them to ensure a tenant is a legal resident in the UK to many makes sense. Some will worry with Andy Burnham about discrimination. Others will worry that it is another imposition on landlords that makes  it less worthwhile at the margin to invest in rental property. What is your view?

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144 Comments

  1. Alan Dean
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I am against making landlords “agents of the state”. If the government feels that a resident (be it the owner or tenant) does not have the right to be in the country, then it is for the government to use its’ powers to investigate. I would not have a problem with landlords only being granted tax advantages where they register the tenancy agreement with the government (thus providing any investigatory agency or the police with an evidence base of residents). That seems to me to be a reasonable quid pro quo.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      The idea of any “tax advantages” for landlord seems very unlikely. Osborne with his recent interest tax grab is taxing them on “profits” they are not even making.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Doubtless landlords who get it wrong and decide not to rent to someone (fearing they may be illegal immigrants) will also be sued for racial discrimination.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps landlords will insist on tenants obtaining a letter from a solicitor or similar showing they are legally in the country, doubtless this will add another large sum to pay on top of their rent. Once again governments will be pushing up the cost of renting.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      We all have a duty to uphold the law of the land, whether or not we are landlords. Just how far that duty extends may be a moot point at the margins, but if a landlord provides accommodation to an illegal immigrant then clearly that is not far removed from harbouring a fugitive from justice.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, and even if that law is completely bonkers as it so often is.

    • Richard1
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Off topic but I hope you will post at some point in the (word left out ed) behaviour of various police forces, particularly the Met and its commissioner Mr Hogan Howe, and the disgraceful role played by the Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson MP in seeking to destroy innocent individuals through unfounded slurs of child abuse. Watson is unfit to be an MP at all having abused parliamentary privilege in the way he has. He must be brought to justice for the abuse of his powers and privileges.

      Reply No I am not planning any such post, as this has been covered extensively elsewhere and I have nothing original to say on the subject.

    • Mark
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Surely tenants have to register with their local authority for Council Tax (or exemption therefrom), which mean that the state has its own agent that could investigate the legality or otherwise of the tenant, while at the same time noting their eligibility to vote in different elections?

      • Mark
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        This is the system they use in the Netherlands as I recall it.

    • Richard Brain
      Posted October 13, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Employers running a business are required by law to check a persons right to live in the uk, likewise a landlord running a property rental business can’t complain about the same. Do we have a country or don’t we. Surely any citizen should want to assist keep out illegals

  2. Mark B
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Of course, none of these problems would arise if we policed our borders properly, reduced or stopped non-EU immigrants, reduced or stopped benefits for EU migrants ‘seeking’ work but not in work (ie enforced the rules) and stopped selling houses / apartments to foreign investors.

    The problem with governments is sooner or later they have to address the problems that they themselves have created.

    And Burnham is right, we should not discriminate, not even women only shortlists.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Women only shortlists are just blatant, legalised, anti-male discrimination – how can they be anything else?

      If you wanted to get say 50/50 representation in say engineering, computing or physics the level of anti male discrimination would have to be huge as there are so few women in those areas. Men and women make their own choices of careers and their work life balance and should be selected on ability and willingness to do the job.

      Watching politicians on say Questiontime I get the impression that most of the female politicians there are rather over promoted (for gender reasons) all ready, rather than selected on ability. Not that many of the male ones provide much better competition.

  3. Mick Anderson
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t rent out property as I consider that the liabilities outweigh the potential advantages. Being obliged to to check for legal status is yet another reason to steer clear.

    However, from a practical perspective, how would I be expected to identify whether any papers presented as proof of permitted residency are appropriate and genuine? Is this going to be yet another government IT system and expensive solicitors to make the check, or is the landlord expected to guess and hope?

    Are you going to be penalised if you call the immigration authorities on an existing tenant, or if something happens beyond your reasonable control like the fines for unfortunate lorry drivers?

  4. Tad Davison
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    For a landlord to exclusively let to people who are in this country legitimately, has nothing whatsoever to do with race or racial discrimination, as some suggest. An illegal immigrant should not be given the same rights and entitlements as a legal one, because they’re breaking the law. To knowingly let a property to someone who is in this country illegally, is to be an accessory.

    I rather fancy Mr. Burnham’s comments are more to do with propping up Labour’s client base. If illegals become ‘legals’, then more people vote for the Labour party (as one former Labour cabinet minister famously admitted).

    Perhaps if the legal ones were properly vetted too, and had to wait their turn, fewer would be inclined to come here in the first place, but I can’t see that happening because the UK is blighted by weak government. I know of instances where landlords will only let to people from certain overseas countries – and that IS racial discrimination, but no-one in authority dares mention it.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      I agree with your comments about Andy Burnham trying to ingratiate himself with Labour voters (and prospective ones) . The same goes for Liberal Democrat Tim Farron on Question Time last Thursday. The minute immigration is mentioned, we hear about how we should take more, and how the NHS would collapse without them. That is ,of course, intended to shut down the debate, but these MPs are dishonest and may find that they alienate their members, who worry about unfettered immmigration the same as the rest of us do.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Bias in BBC audiences is making them totally unbelievable. We need a proper representative generally anti immigration audience in front of these clowns.
        Nobody prepared to engage with the reality and details.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

          Indeed all the “BBC think” lot just wants to be seen to be superficially nice, using other people’s money or from the mythical magic money tree.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Clearly if illegal immigrants are allowed to remain here (as they almost always are in reality by Mrs May) they will need to live somewhere. They will just end up living on other tenants sofas, the streets, squats or people’s sheds otherwise.

    Once a landlord rents a property out it is quite hard for them to know what the legal tenants are doing.

    We have seen large attacks on landlords from Osbornes double taxation of interest, high stamp duty, the absurd deposit protection scheme, pointless energy certificates and other health and safely regulations. We have a very poor/slow/expensive legal system for rent arears and the eviction of poor tenants. Non real gains are also taxed with a very high capital gains tax. On top of that the banks are chaging large margins on buy to let lending and restricting such lending. Restictive planning also keeps rents too high.

    So are they to be evicted by Mrs May and if not where are they to live?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      It will inevitably just become another way to fine some landlords who made mistakes I suspect.

      • stred
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        It was reported that landlords will also face prison sentences, as it will be a criminal offence. It is true that landlords find it impossible to find who is staying in the property, as some tenants sublet and ignore the tenancy agreement. I found a house had been sublet and even the attic had been converted as a ‘chill out space’. The original tenants had disappeared and the new occupants begged for a tenancy of their own. All had jobs and one, a manager, undertook to collect and pay the rent. After 3 months none had been paid and the other tenants said they had paid. Eventually, the one collecting admitted he had used the rent to buy a business and begged me not to inform the police. I did, but they were not interested. The honest tenant told me that the thief was last heard of in prison in Thailand.

        But, before the election, Mr Osborne’s department were suggesting that subletting should become a right. And now any legal or illegal sub-let tenant may be an illegal immigrant, resulting in a prosecution of the landlord.

        • stred
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          I should add that the tenants who sublet and disappeared with the rent were British and had British passport, which they used for their many foreign holidays.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          This is not at all un-typical. The landlord gets little protection from the slow and expensive legal system.

          Stronger and speedier protection from the legal system for landlords would help good tenants get better rents as it is the good tenant who end up paying for the bad. Often it takes months to evict non payers.

        • Mark
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

          An excellent point – it is illegal sublets of all kinds of property (including Council and Housing Association properties) that allow illegal immigrants to remain undetected. Perhaps the offence should be directed at the tenants who sublet illegally rather than the landlord in those cases. The issue is identifying cases of illegal sublet in the first place. In other cases, what starts out as a let to a legal immigrant turns into an illegal one when their visa expires.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Three week to get a GP’s appointment in some areas I see. The “in three letters” priority N H S is a becoming a complete joke. In most places you can see the doctor the same day so what if you have to pay £20 or something. Not only that when you finally get there they give you about 4 minutes and often tell you that they can only address one medical issue.

      Start charging now and find a sensible system that works properly.

      Why is it that the government keep increasing taxes hugely still run a huge deficit and yet public services like rubbish collection, the NHS, schools, road, public transport, get worse and worse every day?

      • Colin
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        “Why is it that the government keep increasing taxes hugely still run a huge deficit and yet public services like rubbish collection, the NHS, schools, road, public transport, get worse and worse every day?”

        Ah, the great central mystery of our times, indeed. I suspect the answer is something to do with our unfortunate habit of electing idiots.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Why do you keep calling it ‘Osborne’s DOUBLE taxation of interest’. In what way do you pay tax on interest?

      If I buy a home using a mortgage and pay, say, 10,000 a year interest – I have to pay that interest out of my taxed income. So, if I might have to earn 10k, or 14k if a higher rate taxpayer, to pay my mortgage interest.

      If a landlord buys a home using a mortgage and has to pay 10,000 a year interest – he can charge a tenant 10,000 a year in rent which he then uses to pay his mortgage interest – offsetting the mortgage interest against income he receives as rent for tax purposes.

      This puts a buy to let landlord in an advantageous position compared to someone buying their own home. Why should you be in an advantageous position while you get other people to work and pay your mortgage(s) off for you?

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, can’t edit. Should have written … ‘so, I might have to earn 12k, or 14k if a higher rate taxpayer, to pay my mortgage interest’.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Well the landlord pays tax on interest (that clearly is a perfectly legitimate expense of the business). This interest is paid to the lender and they have to pay tax on it as well. So double taxation of the interest (or legalised theft, as I prefer to call it what it clearly is).

        All so that Osborne can piss it away on windfarm subsidies, HS2, pointless wars and endless other complete nonsenses.

      • Mark
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know what you expect to happen as a result of imposing this extra tax on landlords. My guess would be that they will seek higher rents, so it will be the tenants paying two lots of income tax – once to pay for the interest element in the landlord’s mortgage costs, and once again to pay for the tax. The other alternative is to economise on property maintenance – again to the disadvantage of tenants. Landlords rely almost entirely on interest only mortgages according to the CML, so the mortgage payment is clean interest, and nothing is going towards paying down the outstanding principal unless the landlord chooses to do that out of retained income.

        It would be much more sensible to limit the amount that landlords could borrow in future for purchases (or if they wish to re-mortgage) – it used to be 50% of value before Gordon Brown started deregulating the banking system. That would limit the amount of interest they could claim for automatically – and it would leave a lower interest expense, making it less risky for tenants should interest rates rise and also giving a larger margin to cover maintenance expenses. Another important effect of limiting mortgage LTVs is that it would substantially reduce the number of properties that landlords could afford to buy for a given capital sum. £100,000 can be used to buy 4 properties costing £100,000 each on 75% mortgages, but only 2 properties on 50% mortgages. Landlord purchases account for roughly 40% of all net acquisitions of property at present, so halving the number they can buy will free up properties for first time buyers – and would probably also lead to lower prices.

      • stred
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 4:21 am | Permalink

        The landlord does not use the home. He is providing a home for someone else. This is a service and should be considered a business by the Treasury. It never has been. Now, Mr Osborne has decided that a BTL landlord, who borrows to let- say 10k pa, and lets at 12k pa, cannot deduct the 10k from his ‘profit’. So, now he will be subsidising his tenant.

      • Mark
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        I don’t know what you expect to happen as a result of imposing this extra tax on landlords. My guess would be that they will seek higher rents, so it will be the tenants paying two lots of income tax – once to pay for the interest element in the landlord’s mortgage costs, and once again to pay for the tax. The other alternative is to economise on property maintenance – again to the disadvantage of tenants. Landlords rely almost entirely on interest only mortgages according to the CML, so the mortgage payment is clean interest, and nothing is going towards paying down the outstanding principal unless the landlord chooses to do that out of retained income.

      • Mark
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        It would be much more sensible to limit the amount that landlords could borrow in future for purchases (or if they wish to re-mortgage) – it used to be 50% of value before Gordon Brown started deregulating the banking system. That would limit the amount of interest they could claim for automatically – and it would leave a lower interest expense, making it less risky for tenants should interest rates rise and also giving a larger margin to cover maintenance expenses.

      • Mark
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Another important effect of limiting mortgage LTVs is that it would substantially reduce the number of properties that landlords could afford to buy for a given capital sum. £100,000 can be used to buy 4 properties costing £100,000 each on 75% mortgages, but only 2 properties on 50% mortgages. Landlord purchases account for roughly 40% of all net acquisitions of property at present, so halving the number they can buy will free up properties for first time buyers – and would probably also lead to lower prices.

    • Mark
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      I thought stamp duty had been lowered on almost all properties selling for less than £937,500? Unless you are in Scotland of course, where higher tax applies at over £324,280.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30309468

    • Mark
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      There should be no prosecution unless the government actually deports the offending tenants. If they are unable to do that, then clearly the courts have deemed them to be here legally.

  6. David Murfin
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    We do have a small property to rent, inherited from my father. When, as may be soon, our present home becomes too large for us, or one of us, to manage, our rented property may help avoid much hassle. Meanwhile we avoid hassle by putting the legal, financial and maintenance issues in the hands of an agent, who seeks good tenants on our behalf. What are our and the agent’s positions? There is already enough to worry about without doing the job of the police or the border control authorities. Are we to be bound by specific regulations to ensure that our tenants do not use the premises as a base for armed robberies, drug dealing, prostitution or simply noisy midnight revels? How do I, or our agents, know whether a Polish, Albanian or Syrian passport is forged? If we find our property subject to unauthorised multiple subletting, will the police intervene, or do we still use the civil courts for our remedy? Have these and other issues I could list been thought through? An illegal immigrant may turn out to be a model tenant, and give no cause for investigation once our initial necessarily limited checks have been performed. The police may have other sources of information which we could not use. What checks will be considered adequate? How far must we probe?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      You can be fairly sure that it will be hard to check and unclear what documents are valid and sufficient. Also the state will not assist in anyway. Other than perhaps if you pay them some large admin fee.

      The fines for getting it wrong will doubless be punative and will not allow for honest mistakes.

    • stred
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Any passport or permit may be forged. This is common among the illegal immigration racket. Any EU country passport will do. Even photograph identity may be substituted. For a landlord to be certain that the person signing the agreement is the one with the passport, even if it is genuine, is impossible. There needs to be an up to date register available online, with pictures and other details.

      The people running properties with many illegal or legal immigrants sharing will be outside the system, not using any legal tenancy agreements and evicting by force.These owners may be themselves illegal or living abroad. If prosecution becomes likely, they are likely to move back abroad, or have other identities. Any tenant, with a normal agreement from a native landlord, already has protection from eviction and may stay for 6 months. After leaving it is common for the landlord to be left with rent unpaid.

      I used to prefer foreign tenants, as they often kept the property in good condition and paid the rent on time. Now it will make letting to them more risky and, if a large fine or prison sentences are threatened, many will think it not worth the risk.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      David – In a healthy economy your inherited property would have been sold on the open market.

      ‘Accidental’ landlording is one of the reasons why property prices have not adjusted. Renters are trapped not by unaffordable mortgages but by the need for high deposits.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        If a property is rented or bought it make no difference to the supply of property it remain the same. Prices are high because there are too few properties for the demand.

        The main thing driving renting is lack of high LTV mortgages and over high stamp duty.

        • Mark
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          Prices are high because banks are prepared to lend large sums against property. The average mortgage granted for house purchase was for almost £175,000 in June according to BoE data.

          • stred
            Posted October 13, 2015 at 4:28 am | Permalink

            Under Help to Buy,the mortgag eis guaranteed on the sales value of properties up to £600k sold to any first time buyer from anywhere in the world. The banks will not suffer if it all goes TU. The taxpayer will instead. Another brilliant idea from Gideon Powerhouse.

        • Anonymous
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic – Accidental landlords have often refused to sell their properties at the market rate, waiting instead for an upturn.

          The upturn, therefore, becomes self fulfilling.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        The is nothing more “healthy” about buying than renting in the market place you need both. There is little point in buying for less than at least 5 years with perhaps 20% of stamp duty plus all the many buying and selling costs. You need both, renting give flexibility.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Unaffordable mortgages? Not trapped by unaffordable mortgages! They will be trapped when, having taken on a 300k mortgage with a fixed rate for two years of 1.6% (or some such nonsense) – they find then have to pay 8% on it! Then we’ll see how affordable it is.

        • Anonymous
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          Mike Wilson – Correct.

          Instead the government chooses to perpetuate high house price rises with low interest and Help to Buy schemes.

          The Tory Party, therefore, gets filled up with stale Lifelogics instead of bright young things because they have been denied their stake in Britain.

          Mrs Thatcher knew only too well the power of home ownership and she was able to harvest votes on it.

          • Anonymous
            Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

            My comment at 10.02 seems contradictory. I need to clarify:

            Low interest ramps up house prices – increasing the dreaded deposits. With higher interest rates house prices would be lower and saving for deposits easier to build up.

            Help to Buy subsidises high house prices. Where increases in local house building should deflate local markets they remain pressurised instead.

            Builders will continue to build without it.

            If we can disincentivise marriage and stay-at-home mothers with bad tax law then I don’t see why we should be squeamish about disincentivising landlording so that more young families can live in their OWN homes.

            The elephant in the room, as ever, record levels of immigration under the Tories. Cameron does mass immigration so well, in fact, that one can only infer that he likes it.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted October 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            Rental properties are just as important as ones available to buy. Not everyone wants to buy. There is little point in doing so if you are not staying in the same unit for about 10+ years as in and out costs are just too high.

  7. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    If government can set up a scheme which allows rental companies identify driving licence holders who have registered to be identified it must surely be possible to run the same process for those without a British passport to register and be identified for landlords.

    The system could be extended to notify landlords when permisions run out or are revoked and the landlord may then liaise with border police for removal.

    This way above board landlords can be easily protected. I suspect the problem is not above board landlords or their tenants. Unsurprisingly government is addressing the easier issues.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Indeed the tenants should have to apply to the government for some certificate that they are allowed to rent to present to landlords.

    • stred
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      The Home Office would have to register every passport, residency permit and visa within the EU, as any EU passport will be valid and permits for refugees and workers from outside the EU. Meanwhile 4000 a week are arriving with EU rules to accept them. 4/5ths may not be Syrians fleeing their war.

      Many are from countries like Sudan. Interestingly, I came across the land density/area per person in the chapter on solar power in Sustainable Energy by Prof MacKay- Sudan 62,300sq.m., England 2630 sq.m..Stand by for the Home Office to sort it out.

      • stred
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Ch 25 p 177.

  8. Antisthenes
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Andy Burnham is a person who knows not of what he speaks and he is an incompetent to boot so what he says we can take with a pinch of salt. To me it is an eminently sensible thing not to rent to illegal immigrants if we wish to have any control over immigration. Burnham can argue that the moral thing to do is not to apply this policy on the grounds of discrimination a rather nebulous declaration but then a useful catch all statement to make. He is implying that illegals are being victimised but he forgets that upholding their rights can and often does victimise more non illegals and the indigenous as they are being denied by shortages their legal rights.

    Actually from my own experience I believe that the asylum systems we have is deeply flawed and wide open to abuse. Some years back I owned two rentable flats which I did to the local council who placed asylum seekers in them. It did not take long for me to find out that one renter was regularly returning to his own country from which he was telling officials he was fearful of living there. The other one was not living there at all but had sublet to to number of other immigrants far in excess of the capacity of the accommodation.

    I suspect that not allowing accommodation to be rented by illegals will be easily circumvented by the simple expedient of putting the lease in the name of a legal and then subletting at great profit by cramming them in. Of course that will not be the only ruse or method used but you have to admire the boundless ingenuity of humans.

  9. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Long ago, when I was a tenant, I was a good tenant as defined, but I always withheld the final month’s rent, mainly because landlords had a habit of inventing dirt or damage so that they could retain some of the deposit.

    Labour has invented this complaint of closet racialism because most illegal immigrants vote Labour and they don’t want their wings clipped.

  10. Brian Taylor
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    My family run a Letting Agency.
    Most landlords are OK with new regulations and we can cope with checking the eligibility of tenants.
    Should the government wish to keep the Private Rented sector then they should allow landlords to set all costs against Tax, as other business’s, this should included cost of finance.

    • Timaction
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      I rent properties and ensure that they are in an excellent state of decoration/repair, gas safe certificates and boilers properly renewed and maintained, fire and CO2 alarms fitted and working as well as ensuring correct temperatures in water systems to prevent legionella bacteria etc. I also pay an estate agent to find and assess suitability of new tenant’s. This would be part of that legal status of the tenant and not overly difficult to ensure their nationality.
      I do object to the changes brought in by Mr Osborne on the tax calculations on interest only tax relief on mortgages. A legitimate business expense. I pay all my taxes on time and to the correct amount. I take all the risks and the Government none. It is my money from investments over many years. Why does he stop at landlords only? Why not commercial rents or any other form of rental from tools to whatever? Its been a steady softening up of public opinion over many years to try and gain additional taxes from sector that has become unpopular. There are rogue landlords but there are also many bad tenants.

      • stred
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 4:34 am | Permalink

        Legionaires bacteria are killed by temperatures of 60C+. This can scald, so landlords now have to make sure the bottom of the tank, which stays cooler gets up to 60C, then it cools down to 40C when it comes out. Take care.

        • Timaction
          Posted October 13, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          Thank you I know. It was also an EU imposed regulation. The daft thing is it doesn’t apply to private home owners!

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      But buying a house with a mortgage and getting someone else to pay the mortgage off for you is not a business in the normal sense of the word – because the supply of housing is controlled by the government via the planning system and because everyone needs a roof over their head.

      Why should I have to earn 12k and pay 2k tax so I have 10k left to pay my mortgage interest – when all you have to do is charge me 10k rent, use it to pay your 10k interest and have me buy your property for you? It is high time there was a level playing field between buy to let landlords and ordinary home owners.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        Mike, I take it by calling for a level playing field, you would also abolish Capital Gains Tax on the sale of any rental property (because ordinary home owners don’t pay it when they sell).

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

          No. If you make a profit selling a controlled substance, you should pay tax on the profit. I just don’t see why I (to repeat my point) have to earn 12k to pay my 10k interest while you only have to ‘earn’ 10k in rent to pay your 10k interest.

        • Mark
          Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

          I would abolish it (or at least offer a much lower rate) for sales by landlords to owner occupiers.

    • StevenL
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      “they should allow landlords to set all costs against Tax, as other business’s”

      Other businesses pay VAT on gross profits and business rates on the property they own. If being a landlord is a ‘business’ then landlords get off really lightly. If on the other hand buying to rent is an ‘investment’ then you can’t set the cost of leverage against your dividend or coupon income can you?

      In an ideal world we’d have a land value tax, at 100% of location rental value, and use the proceeds to get rid of as many taxes on proper businesses, VAT etc, as possible.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 4:04 am | Permalink

        Well owner occupiers do not pay vat on the rental value of their properties. Their should be a level playing field between the two ways of holding properties. Also you pay business rates or council tax if you actually use a property commercial or residential (not if you own it and rent it out to someone else who uses it.

        Clearly you could also pay the council tax for the tenant, then increase the rent accordingly.

  11. Iain Gill
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Sure there is a lot of law and regulation, problem being that none of it is enforced. It’s like the Wild West in tenant land.
    And even with the most legitimate concern, if you raise it with the landlord, agent, or anyone else, brings the risk of not being renewed at tenancy renewal. Since most private tenancies are on 6 or 12 month tenancies any murmur from the tenant and the landlord simply refuses to extend, this is a big deal when your kids are at the local school and so on.
    Being forced to sign your renewal mid-way through the tenancy when the landlord will not sign until the last day is grossly unfair but common, as you are essentially entering into a one sided long commitment.
    Large agent fees are out of control, random, and should be stopped.
    Keeping of deposits for all sorts of nonsense reasons is out of control in this country, no the wonder many tenants refuse to pay their last month or two rent to cover the deposit to make sure they get it back.
    “Leave without notice” what do you mean? The whole point of renting is that you can move at short notice if you need to move to another part of the country for work. Especially if you have been a good tenant for a few years I don’t see the big deal of moving mid-way through the official 6 months of the current tenancy renewal, and most landlords accept that as reasonable too.
    There is no getting away from the fact landlords have made exceptional profits over the last 30 years, but especially recently, from nothing other than house price inflation brought about by successive government manipulation of the markets. The way they are taxed is ridiculous too, and there are too many disincentives in the tax system from selling and crystallising a capital gain.
    The whole credit check process is broken too. You can find yourself with the price of the house in the bank, carrying triple rated credit cards, and still fail the credit check (having had to pay for the credit check yourself, so you end up losing that money). The credit check process is badly broken and fails to help either side really identify where there will be problems.
    In Germany tenants can easily get long tenancies, with rights for them to stay a long time, but they can always leave at short notice if a job comes up in another town, I don’t see that system being such a big problem there. They also have fewer bigger players operating in the landlord market instead of the masses of small players we have here. This is generally a much better system than we have. But there the parents have a lot more choice of their children’s school, patients over which GP they use, and so the property owner is not taking the risk of the state moving the property into a worse catchment area for schools and GP’s like they are here.
    I have had a more mobile career than you have John, I have been forced to move regularly for work. I seem to have paid a lot of taxes to prop up people in social housing, and the mortgaged classes via help to buy and other nonsense, and nobody in power seems to care about people like me. Why should the mobile workforce be funding everyone else but get no help themselves? Mostly my old landlords would rate me very highly as a tenant, a few the opposite when in reality they are the problem.
    We need to stop the state manipulating house prices ever higher, and all the nonsense that goes with it. The reality is at the moment a couple both earning the average pay cannot afford the average house and that’s obviously a bubble how ever much manipulation is piled on top of manipulation. Mostly landlords have had large windfall gains through state manipulation and not hard work or particularly good investment decisions or quality of tenant service.
    I don’t even think a high percentage of home ownership is necessarily the best way to organise our society. Certainly some countries with higher percentages of tenants seem to do a lot better than we do. We certainly need a percentage of the workforce to be mobile and move frequently.
    As for discrimination to potential tenants… I can tell you for free there are rooms to rent advertised in windows in shops in Coventry, Slough, Bradford that are advertised as only available to one race or religion. And it’s not the white legacy Christian population doing this. But despite this openly happening I never ever see any criticism of this going on. So once again the Labour party are double standards personified. Immigration is out of control, and I don’t think on the whole landlords should be policing immigration status – especially as many native Brits don’t have a passport etc.
    One reform of the rental market I would bring is reform for parents. If you have children in school it should be much harder for landlords to end your tenancy mid academic year. We should do everything we can to have children moving school during the summer holiday and not mid-term. Short term tenancies should all be extended to the summer holiday for all parents. Gains in child attainment would make this a very worthwhile policy.
    So it’s all a mixed up mess.

  12. JJE
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Where are these people to live? If they shouldn’t be in the country, don’t let them in. Regain some control over our borders.
    These measures just create a black economy where immigrants are wide open to all sorts of exploitation and abuse and landlords are expected to do a job that the state has failed to do.
    On the whole I agree with Andy Burnham’s point.

    • forthurst
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      “Where are these people to live?”

      If they are not here legally, the answer is not in this country anywhere, including in rented accommodation, especially if that accommodation is funded by taxpayers or Community Charge payers.

      “These measures just create a black economy where immigrants are wide open to all sorts of exploitation and abuse…”

      Those who let property to illegal immigrants or who employ illegal immigrants would or should be prosecuted, as with all breaches of the law. As to the fate of illegals, they should be deported immediately.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        So why stop there?
        Why not make it illegal to sell them food, or to travel on public transport?
        Because it would clog up the retail and transport systems, I guess. But should landlords bear all of the responsibility here? I would say only if they are compensated for doing so.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          If they are not going to deport them, as this government is clearly not going to, then they will need to live somewhere.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    If the rental market is underwritten with Housing Benefit and other government support then the government is entitled to have a say in things.

    It would be better if the Tories restored private pensions as reforms caused the scramble among disappointed Boomers to become BTL investors, this has helped drive up the price of the whole housing market for young people. The Tories have just added more fuel to the fire with pension release schemes.

    It would be better not to pay Boomers paternity/maternity leave to care for their grandchildren because stay-at-home mothering has been discriminated against and mum has to work to pay impossible rents – all it does is drive up the bidding for scarce housing.

    In fact the answer to all of this is the proper Conservatism we were promised but are still not getting after five years. Hell. We even have the back-door abolition of grammar schools by means of the acceptance of borderline entry exam passers discriminated in favour of their background.

    Add to this record levels of immigration.

    Illegal immigrants can sue if they feel they are being discriminated against. They’ll get free legal and translation services and probably win big payouts too.

    As for legal immigrants, they will have newly acquired EU passports to show landlords.

    Andy Burnham is getting far more of his agenda served by this government than I am and I’m sure that all he’s doing is trying to keep the government on track. HIS track.

  14. agricola
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Run an effective Border Force that denies illegals entry in the first place. If they are applying for asylum they do it at the nearest British Embassy to their country of origin. Have regular thorough trawls through the areas in the UK that you are likely to find them. Identify their country of origin through language and deport them to it without recourse to lengthy costly legal procedures that only enhance the incomes of lawyers.

    You will of course have to leave the EU first.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      May will never to that. She just talks as if she might at Tory Conferences but has no intention of actually doing it. She has had five years in office already and even non EU immigration is totally out of control.

  15. a-tracy
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Well don’t all tenants have to be registered with the local council for council tax on the property anyway? Is this the landlords responsibility to register their tenant and declare rental income on the property now? It should be a simple procedure to register who is living in your property and then the authorities should check on their status.

  16. alan jutson
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Firstly, I am not a landlord, and do not wish to be. as I have seen far too many properties left in a disgraceful state after renting out.

    It seems to me that the State is passing on some of its own responsibility, caused by its own failure to control immigration and who enters our Country.

    First we have HMRC making employers liable for the tax status of its employees/contractors

    Now we have the State making Landlords liable for the legal status of their tenants.

    What next ?

    Are we going to make all businesses liable for the legal status of their customers ?

    Are the supermarkets going to be responsible for checking that people are eligible to purchase food ?

    Where is this going to end ?

    Given where we are, with probably millions of illegal immigrants in our Country, clearly something needs to be done to help resolve that situation, but Government action (deportation) should be taken as soon as theses illegals are found, instead of allowing them to simply roam at will whilst their case is under consideration, which seems to take years.
    Then there may be fewer illegals to worry about in the first place.

    I see no problem with asking landlords to ask tenants for proof of identity, and for keeping a record of such paperwork, but what if they are given forged papers, should they really be held responsible for examination of such items, given how good some forged papers may be ?

    Surely one of the most sensible acts would be to make sure any Housing Benefit was paid directly to the landlord, thus meaning that the Local Authority was also responsible for the checking and status of such tenants.

    Would also have the added benefit of making sure the landlord got their rent, and it was not spent on something else, leaving the landlord with arrears and the expense of eviction for non payment.

    Illegals are the Governments problem, by all means ask the public to help out with information, by all means ask landlords to keep records on their tenants, but do not make them responsible for the checking and verification of official documentation.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    The renting sector is something of a muddle and never could have attracted me . No-one would dispute that the return on capital employed is very attractive and the capital growth the best on offer , however , the headaches of keeping an eye on tenants and protecting ones investment would be beyond my patience .

    If Landlords become required to check the identity of tenants , they will be nothing but an extension of the Home Office . I am very much in sympathy with all the efforts to control illegal immigrants and I support any effort that Theresa May makes in doing this ; putting some of this responsibility on Landlords is the wrong way to go .

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Business owners are extensions of the Inland Revenue – why shouldn’t landlords, who think they are running a business – also be an extension of the government?

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Nothing wrong with them being an extension of the Inland Revenue (declaring rental income is required of a landlord by law), but why also expect landlords to be unpaid, untrained agents of the UK Border Force?

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

          Because you are partly controlling a controlled market.

  18. alan jutson
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The government have already made the landlords task more difficult, because they recently introduced a scheme and legislation, which allows the original tenant to sublet the property they are renting.

    Thus the landlord could be in a position where they do not have a clue as to who and how many people are actually living, or passing through their property !

    The other problem is where does civil law, become criminal law.

    Very often as I understand it the Police simply refuse to become involved in tenancy disputes, unless violence is used.

    Thus the landlord has to fund any Civil action themselves.

  19. Dies Irae
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    As the owner of 4 rental properties I have no problem checking potential tenants’ immigration status and do that anyway as part of background and identity checks (it’s also required by my landlord insurance policy).
    What I do find a travesty is the denial of full tax relief on the mortgage interest. If I were a sole trader running a shop or factory the mortgage interest on my commercial property would be fully deductible, but not if I choose to rent residential accommodation as a business. I may not employ anyone directly but the private rented sector does create jobs (estate agents, builders, credit reference checks, insurance etc).
    How can the discrimination against private landlords be justified?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Because if I buy a home for myself and have to pay 10,000 a year mortgage interest, I would have to earn £12,000 to pay £2000 tax so I have the 10k I need to pay my mortgage interest.

      You, on the other hand, with a buy to let mortgage paying 10,000 a year in interest only need an income of 10,000 – by someone paying you 10,000 a year in rent – to pay your mortgage interest.

      Therefore, in general terms, you have a £2000 a year advantage against a typical basic rate taxpayer and a 4000 a year advantage against a typical higher rate taxpayer.

      It is high time this unfair situation was addressed and, at last, George Osborne is doing it. About time too.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Well no actually you would have to earn 12,500 at 20% tax to be left with 10,000 for your mortgage but that is you income that is taxed.

        The landlord’s income is rent, less interest, less costs of running the business and he pays tax on that on that profit. Just as any other business like renting cars, trucks or anything else.

        Double taxing the interest (on the landlord and the bank he pays it to) is an outrage. It just puts rents up for tenants in the end and decreases supply or rental property. Economic lunacy from the lefty, innumerate, Osborne.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

          Cars, trucks etc. are not in a market controlled by the government.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

          Still don’t understand your terminology. What do you mean when you say ‘taxing the interest on the landlord?’

          The mechanism of Mr Osborne’s tax attack is the removal of landlords’ ability to deduct the cost of their mortgage interest from their rental income when they calculate a profit on which to pay tax.
          Is this what you call being ‘taxed on the interest’?

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Mike, fine, but please be prepared to pay CGT when you sell your home.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

          If I could deduct the interest on my mortgage, plus cost of repairs, buying and selling costs etc. from my income – I guess I’d be in the same position as you and would have to accept paying CGT.

          But I, and all ordinary home buyers, are not in the same position as you. We can’t deduct all the above from our income to reduce the tax we pay.

          • Anonymous
            Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            Plus someone else is paying the mortgage on rental, Mike. On an asset which all government policy seems directed at hyping.

            Even the policy of mass immigration benefits the landlord. ESPECIALLY the landlord, in fact.

            There is no compunction for a long standing landlord whose mortgage was paid off decades ago to be charging today’s highly inflated rents.

            These are subsidised (at some level) through welfarism. The landlord in question may not be letting to benefit claimants but others in the area will be – thus driving up local rents.

            Landlording may be many things but it is not, on the whole, ‘providing a service.’

            Our present situation is more like: cornering limited housing stock, restricting ownership of it and then charging the maximum possible.

            I believe in incentivising creative things like setting up new businesses in an area – but incentivising people to buy up housing that has already been built (adding nothing to the economy) and create a class of renter serfs from it ?

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            What is interesting to note on this thread is the complete lack of mention of companies who let residential property. Such companies get more favourable tax treatment than either owner-occupiers or individuals since companies pay tax at corporation tax rates (lower than income tax) and get full deduction of all costs, including interest on any loans (assuming they have loans, as often such companies are cash buyers which gives them maximum advantage in the market).

            This makes the residental property market and its tax position more complex than owner-occupiers vs BTL landlords.

            Disadvantaging BTL landlords in comparison with companies owning and renting out residential properties will simply cause some of them to exit the market. You may see this as a good thing, but one consequence will be a reduction in competition in the rental market and a reduced choice of landlords available to the end consumer (those who rent), and in any market where there is a reduction in choice and competition, there is a likelihood that the end price (the rent) goes up. Forcing small landlords to exit the market may make things worse for people who rent.

      • Mark
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        You seem to expect tenants to pay higher rents that landlords will need to cover the tax. That’s not fair on those unable to purchase or get subsidised rents from the Council or Housing Association, is it?

        • Peter Parsons
          Posted October 13, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          Mark, no it’s not fair, but it is a likely consequence of the chancellor’s action in a free market with a shortage of supply.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted October 13, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      It can’t be justified. Unless you are happy to blur the terms between turnover and profit. Ask Gideon to work that one out.

  20. Dies Irae
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    John – we’re counting on you to stand up for free market principles and thwart the attempt to take away mortgage interest relief for BTL.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      A free market principle eh? Why can’t I, as an ordinary home buyer with a mortgage, deduct my mortgage interest, cost of repairs, cost of buying and selling etc. from my income. You can – at the moment. But I can’t. Not right. Glad to see that, at last, a chancellor is going to do something about it.

      • Mark
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        We used to have a system like that. It was called Schedule A income tax. The offset was that you had an imputed rent from owning a property that was added to your income and taxed.

        http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/101063

  21. Kenneth
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Andy Burnham is right. Landlords should not be in the business of checking passports etc. Property rental should be an unfettered free market.

    Instead of interfering in so many areas where it is not wanted (such as the house rental sector), the state should do one of the few things it is actually supposed to do and that is to protect our borders.

    I would suggest a simple bond scheme where incomers without a UK passport pay a £deposit, refundable when they leave. In addition we should be recalling most of our armed forces from their overseas adventures and have them patrolling our borders.

  22. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Here is true example which I may cite about landlord’s, homeowners, tenants and the Law which may be instrumental in coming to certain conclusions as to how much power the State should place in the hands of ordinary citizens.
    Whilst in Canada, I drove to a popular tourist area and parked in full view of residences and traffic, out of season, so I was the only tourist on site.Again in full view of anyone who cared to look I started taking photos of flora and fauna. Soon I was approached by a person causally walking toward me who started a conversation and said “We…wondered why you were here”. I thought the person agreeably social and welcoming and perhaps referring to a spouse or children. During the course of the conversation I was asked a number of questions. The person went away only to return after 15 minutes with the same questions and others. I spotted the person’s outside top pocket where an equivalent of “Neighbourhood Watch ” was emblazoned, which the person then attempted clumsily to hide.
    Any State should be very careful about enlisting the aid of private citizens in policing work even of the most rudimentary kind…including landlords.
    It is a truism that Little People can in fact be much more tyrannical than Big people. A Big powerful person perhaps will not bother about what he considers the trivia or trifles of Observation and Security and leave we little people to go about our business unmolested without unjust and overbearing spying. A Little Person however may be given certain small powers and, because they are small minded and bereft of real power, exercise their self-designated responsibilities to the point of insult, harassment in the most Soviet way imaginable.
    One should beware therefore of giving in effect landlords policing powers. Policing is a Police matter. In Canada as well as in the UK

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Quite like Neighbourhood Watch myself.

  23. Kevin harris
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Andy Burnhams point is entirely spurious as the owner of a letting agency I can tell you we photo identify all applicants from where ever they are from routinely,

  24. English Pensioner
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Surely it is the Government’s job to prevent illegal immigrants, not the individual.

    As many of the illegals have false passports or other papers, how can the landlord know which are real and which are not? Then could it be the thin end of the wedge; why not make it illegal to let to wanted criminals, there are plenty of them on the run? What about the property being rented for some illegal activity? And of course the obvious fallacy; The tenant might be legal, but he could be providing accommodation for illegals by sub-letting.

    Then, of course there is the “Elephant in the room”, the NHS. Why not place a duty on them to check that all patients are legally here? Probably more illegals use these services than rent property. Why not a duty on them to check that all patients, particularly at A&E, are legally entitled to treatment by demanding appropriate documentation.

    In practice, none of these things can be done without proper identity cards, something that the British people generally have opposed in the past, although I must admit that my views on the subject have been changing over the last year or so.

  25. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    It is not the job of landlord’s to police the UK’s immigration system. Just as a start (I am a landlord) how am I supposed to do it ? I have no access to any system which shows me whether any documents I may ask to see are genuine or valid or not. As employers are also supposed to check status I just assume that if my tenant is employed then they are here legally.

  26. David
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    This is not a bad thing per se. However it is not needed to stop illegal immigration.
    Illegal immigrants come here because after a few years they can become legal.
    I know people who have done it and now have a council flat.
    The solution is to say “If you are here illegally you will never ever be legal. One day you will be old and you will not be entitled to a penny in pension etc and when you ask for it we will deport you broke back to your own country”.
    They will then of course go to Spain etc where they can become legal after a few years (and then come back to the UK also something I know happened).

    John
    If you contact me I can give you examples of people who have done both of these things.

    Reply If you have evidence of people breaking the law then you should report it yourself to the authorities in your locality.

    • David
      Posted October 13, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately I met this people after they had converted their illegal status to legal. They are now here legally. The problem is, that as their example encourages other illegals to come here because after a few years they become legal.

  27. javelin
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    There are over a million illegal immigrants in this country.

    They must be living somewhere.

    Landlords who help them to live here illegally must be held accountable under the law even if it means jail time.

  28. ian wragg
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Being illegal by definition means they can’t be discriminated against. They have no right to be here and have broken the law. They should be deported immediately. Of course this will never happen because despite Mrs Mays rhetoric, all the legacy parties are wedded to open borders.
    We have around 100,000 students annually not leaving the country at the end of their course/visa. We continue to let the education establishments bring in students although this is a primary immigration route. They should only be issued with the same number of visas as the number of students who have left. They would soon get their act together.

  29. bigneil
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    As illegals are currently being put in hotels, by a company that gets it’s money from the government, then who is actually the ” landlord” in these cases? the hotel owner?, the company with a contract with the govt?, or the govt itself?

    It also doesn’t matter who it will be – – once the illegal is here they don’t give a damn. They have achieved 99% of their aim, if they have got their feet on our soil. Very few as a percentage get removed. The Human Rights lawyers are going to have a financial windfall out of this.

    Merkel is going to hand out EU passports like confetti, possibly with one-way tickets, to the masses of “penniless”, clean shaven, smartly clothed, smartphone carrying “refugees”. All claiming to be Syrian ( as shown on the BBC program last week. their aim is to be in Europe. Once here , as they have already shown, they will march, scream and shout till they get what they want. What WE are going to get is – – hell. The Middle East is now on our doorstep. All those scenes seen on tv where the streets are in turmoil, will now become real. The people determined to come here know that there will be lawyers getting them houses and large wads of “compensation” – we are paying for our own annihilation.

    • stred
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      It did not take long for the Human Rights Lawyers to answer Mrs May’s call to consider the plight of real refugees over the larger number of economic migrants. 200 of them including judges in the top appeal court have called on HMG to respect the UN human rights laws, as adopted throughout the EU. No doubt some of them will be lining up adverts for claimants to sue landlords and agents for unfair refusal to let, should they be unable to verify an EU passport. The legal profession is riddled with internationalists who make a good living telling us how to run the country.

  30. forthurst
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    How might this work out in practice? Most properties appear to be let through agencies, often estate agents, as a sideline. Would an estate agent, any more than a typical landlord, be able to identify whether a prospective tenant is legally entitled to be in this country? As with house purchase, where English people have to pay a fee for a ‘money laundering’ check and a check to see to what extent the property concerned represents an existential threat to the continuity of Life on Earth, so with entitlement to a rental agreement where a fee will be demanded for a residency check with companies springing up or for solicitors to perform, with a minority, as with immigration lawyers who specialise in swinging the lead and then claiming, if challenged, that they were acting ‘in good faith’. Is this what we want? It will, after all, add to Osborne’s much vaunted GDP, even if the fee ends up by being passed to the Council Tax payer because the putative tenant has no money.

  31. Anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    When it comes to things like scarce housing during our present population crisis why shouldn’t newcomers be discriminated against ?

    After all. Labour is in favour of discrimination with women only shortlists and ethnic quotas.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      I thought the whole point of citizenship was that one’s country discriminated if favour of one’s self – in return one was prepared to die for it.

      If citizenship is given away as easily as it is then the whole covenant falls apart.

      • Anonymous
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        ‘in’ not ‘if’

        Tnank you.

  32. Richard1
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t ridiculous Mr Corbyn believe in a ‘right to buy’ for tenants of rented property – I.e. a right to seize someone else’s property with impunity? Perhaps I’m maligning him but I thought I heard of him proposing something like that. Incredible, if so, that he can’t see that such a move would kill the rented property market stone dead!

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      He did say that but he seems to be in the curious position of being the leader of a party but opposed to many of its policies – it is a strange situation – he was elected with such a majority that it would be only sensible for them to change policy to align with him – ie. Scrap Trident, People’s QE, private right-to-buy etc. Then it’s clear what we would be voting for. Or voting against.

  33. Iain Gill
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    If you’ve been homeless for a while making your first steps by renting somewhere it’s going to be even harder as you are hardly likely to have a passport or funds to get one.
    So badly thought through by the government.

  34. Bill
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    For what it is worth, I let out some properties and use an agent. He carries out credit checks on potential tenants and ensures we are compliant with government regulation (e.g. having a carbon monoxide monitor installed). It would not add much to his work, if agents routinely asked to see the passports or visas of potential tenants.

    The government’s behaviour is typical of large bureaucracies which seek to control the behaviour of people through regulatory frameworks. There is a logic to what they want to do if, indeed, the desire to drive down immigration remains a priority.

    For myself, it seems that we need information about replacement levels of fertility in the current British population. I understand Germany has an average family size of below 2 which of course will lead to a shrinking population without immigration. Fertility rates among immigrants are typically higher than those of the established population which means that ethnic percentages will naturally rise. The question to be addressed is whether the arriving ethnic groups assimilate to British culture or stick out like sore thumbs. We are back to Enoch Powell’s warnings, unpopular as those are.

  35. nigel
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Yet another example of Government making legislation so that the private sector is forced to do their work for them. This will result in some sort of vetting agency being set up to check out potential tenants, the cost of which will be passed on through the letting agent to the landlord.
    Another example of the dead hand of bureaucracy.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Like the dreaded HIPs.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Indeed at least the Tories killed them though they left the absurd/worthless energy reports.

        • stred
          Posted October 13, 2015 at 4:41 am | Permalink

          Energy certificates are an EU directive.

  36. M Browne
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    We should certainly police our borders to stop people coming here illegally, and those that are refused residence should be returned quickly.
    I agree that landlords should have to check the status of prospective tenants, and I also think that people turning up at doctor;s surgeries and hospitals should have their eligibility for treatment checked.
    Why should a buy-to-let buyer receive tax relief on the interest paid on loans, whereas a private buyer does not receive such tax relief.
    We should have far more checking in this country than we have at present, and identity cards with ones national insurance number on, would be a very welcome step in that direction.

    • Mark
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      The problem is mainly that people who come here legally stay on beyond the time they were supposed to. That ranges from a short holiday visit, through to remaining after a course of study that lasts several years. Checking at the border on the way in is not going to solve the problem – we already make some attempt to do that, and while some manage to evade such checks through stowing away on trucks and even in airplane undercarriage, they only account for a small minority or those who are here illegally.

      • stred
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 5:03 am | Permalink

        We also don’t know how many people are coming via legitimate routes through to W.Europe. The border with Bulgaria to Turkey allows amount of traffic via the E70 and other motorways. Once over the border to Bulgaria and then Romania, who knows how many EU passports are being bough., or spaces in lorries sold. These lorries are driving around the M25 2 days later and some may be providing lifts for passengers.

  37. Brigham
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Why anybody should take any notice of Andy Burnham is beyond me. I used to watch the old labour front bench and wonder how any of them got elected. A lying health minister and a complete failure as a politician, and now beaten for the leadership by an off with the fairies communist antibritish (not allowed noun)

  38. formula57
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    If the law provides for some immigrants to have the status of being illegal, then I do not see how the state can avoid treatment in respect of such people that is less favourable than the treatment it extends to all those who are not considered illegal. Andy “Mid-Staffs” Burnham (the only man in history to have privatized an NHS hospital, per Nick Clegg) therefore seems to be making a false point in objecting to measures that would give rise to discrimination if his ground is only that the treatment is then not equal to that extended to those who are within the law.

    The more serious points though are whether the government should: –

    1. Be seeking it buttress its weak and ineffectual management of illegal immigration through seeking to frustrate illegal immigrants in their efforts to rent property, open bank accounts, obtain driving licences etc. (but excluding being able to abuse the lax system for voter registration, possible more than once). Very often those who overcome the vicissitudes associated with coming to this country illegally will be of a type enterprising and determined enough not to be troubled by petty administrative obstacles.

    2. Be enlisting the public in their various capacilites, as landlords, teachers, bankers and many other capacities in becoming enforced narks of the state and be levying fines and taking other reprisals (possibly of a harsh nature) against them should they fail. That of course represents a nasty, repressive, authoritarian tendency on the part of officialdom that we saw enjoy a fresh lease of life under the New Labour regimes and if would be sad to see it given a further impetus now.

  39. graham1946
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Is it so very different from what employers, large and small have to do? I may be out of date now, as I am retired and have not employed anyone for the last 10 years, but surely the government should do all the proper checking when issuing a National Insurance Number ?

    Then any landlord or employer wanting to check would just have to go online and check whether that number existed and take it as read that all is in order if it does. No National Insurance number, no rental or job. Seems simple enough to me, but the government seems to want to unload all its responsibilities onto the rest of us, when it is clearly their area of expertise and they have the necessary tools.

    What do they do these days? We have to do all our own tax calculations, check immigration status and God knows what else. What does the Civil Service actually do other than get in the way and in the particular case of Job Centres, just obstruct people from getting proper help to find a job and benefits to which they are entitled.

  40. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    JR would you in your capacity as a Conservative MP be entirely happy with Labour Party Local Authority landlords and their controlled ALMO landlords making thousands of decisions about tenant legitimacy?
    Andy Burnham knows his own Party. It has a fake democratic local involvement of committees and tenants groups of what Council and ALMO paid officials call “Local Big Mouths”. Labour Councillors also call them “Local Big Mouths”. Large amounts of tax-payers money and the tax-payer paid time of senior people are involved in this pathetic attempt at a show of local democracy.
    Repairs and development priorities are high-jacked by unrepresentative and unskilled people. The Labour Party benefits because it uses the periodicals published with tax-payers money of these groups to publicize it own electoral agenda. This is in addition to the touting for repairs and innovations by regular Local Labour Councillors’ estate walkabouts…whilst council workmen are told off for “touting for repairs” if they so much as report a crack in a pavement just outside a disabled OAP’s gate.
    As you might expect “Local Big Mouths” and indeed certain people within the Labour Party have their proportion of closet racists. And politicians are skilled in seemingly doing one innocuous course of action knowing that the objective result will be the opposite. For example, ostentatiously providing housing and free household equipment to penniless migrants over the heads of local people. Christian charity? Or Joseph’s Coat of Many Colours? They have read their Bibles with the Devil’s eye to detail, these Labourites, and their Helpers.
    Andy Burnham is right. Landlords should not be given powers way beyond their moral compass. ( however he originally phrased it )

    Reply As a Conservative MP I believe in local as well as national democracy. Voters need to influence and vote on local matters through Council elections. If Councils generally behave badly then as an MP I am always willing to look at a change of the law governing their conduct.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – If you believe in local as well as national democracy then you are in the wrong party.

      Your leader has just declared to local councils that if they don’t get on with concreting over vast swathes of our beautiful country to house the ever increasing population then the decision will be made for them.

      This is undemocratic. Frighteningly so.

      Which part of EMERGENCY and CRISIS do you not get, John ?

      The most powerful case you could make is to resign and cite Cameron as the cause.

      The most dangerous party in the country is not Corbyn’s or Farage’s but YOURS.

      Reply Why don’t you post under your own name? I have recently been elected on a platform which included my prominent use of the phrase “Home ownership for the many”, so I intend to assist with providing homes for those who wish to buy affordable properties.

      • Anonymous
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        Because I’d lose my job, John. And I am not paid to express my opinion – so it’s not worth using my name.

        It is cowardly of me but what needs to be said needs to be said and I’d understand if you didn’t publish it.

  41. ChrisS
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I have been a Buy-to-let landlord for the last 20 years and would certainly expect to be put in the category of “good landlord.”

    Unfortunately for every good tenant there appears to be a bad one. The lower down the income scale, generally, the worse the situation is. We have let to benefit claimants but with a couple of notable exceptions, this has invariably not ended well.

    We try to ensure that our properties are well maintained and with almost twenty units, it requires significant management time to run the business.

    With some tenants, maintenance proves to be increasingly difficult. One of the problems that occurs very frequently is when the interior of a well-maintained home has been damaged by mould and damp. The cause is invariably the tenants insisting on drying clothes on radiators and, despite advice from ourselves, they won’t open windows to allow adequate ventilation.

    They then complain to the council’s environmental health officers who give them the same advice which they continue to ignore. Invariably they leave the property disgruntled and complain bitterly when their deposit is taken up by redecoration costs.

    On the subject of tax, our BTL properties have around 50% mortgages on them. This has always been a legitimate business expense and the cost of finance is tax deductible as it would be with any other business. Why politicians should seek to discriminate against landlords by treating us differently to any other business owner is quite beyond me.

    Finally, our original business model was based on disposing of around half of the properties at retirement leaving a core group without any finance. Again, why should we not have business retirement relief against CGT in the same way as other business owners enjoy ?

    In fact the situation has changed dramatically for the worst with the withdrawal by Brown of CGT taper relief. We are now in the situation where our children would pay less inheritance tax on our death than we would pay CGT on a sale in our lifetime.

    Is it any wonder that landlords such as I hold on to properties we would prefer to sell and remortgage them rather than sell them ? That’s a significant reason why CGT receipts are so much lower than they were. The huge hike in CGT is not a sensible policy and is costing the treasury at least £2.5bn pa.

    Being a professional landlord is not a licence to print money and providing homes for people unable to or not wishing to buy one is a perfectly legitimate business and should be treated as such.

  42. margaret
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I am thinking of buying a small property abroad for holidays and when I do not use would rent out . I wonder what the landlord set up is in the EU?
    There are so many properties which have been misused by the tenants causing damage, decorating the way they want to, spoiling carpets ,letting pets defecate and urinate on the floor that it is not a prospect I wish to entertain in this country . I do not want others to live the way they do in my property and not the clean space I seek. I suppose when letting houses out there has to be little sentimentality and a need let go a little. I could not cope with this slovenliness.
    Property should not be let out to illegal immigrants; full stop.

  43. Maureen Turner
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Andy Burnham says the government is wrong to tell landlords not to let property to illegal immigrants …………………. for fear of discrimination. The word discrimination had of course to come into this.

    Will these be the same illegal migrants at Calais who have been seen by the boss of a charity that has been supporting them burning clothing and food supplied by his charity.
    Needless to say this support has been withdrawn

    Since I rented out two properties 20+ years ago the safety regulations the landlord has now to meet have increased greatly and that’s no bad thing but the latest requirement to have to vet individuals as to their migrant status is perhaps for many would be landlords an ask too far.

    Should you mistakenly take on a illegal tenant you could still be in trouble, possibly on two counts, his status and where his rental money comes from as he won’t have a NI number. If you knowingly take on an illegal then I doubt if the beak will be impressed if your case rests on not wishing to be seen to discriminate.

    My letting experience overall was good with one exception so it wouldn’t put me off the idea. However, now I would certainly do this through an agency. The charges for their services can be quite hefty but it takes away the hassle and while you are getting an income your properties are usually increasing in value. Also and importantly someone gets a home, albeit as a tenant.

  44. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Just by the way, where I am, inspired partly by this rule, it is very difficult for legal immigrants from places outside the EU to rent in the private sector – the example I’m thinking of is a Nigerian NHS nurse I know – landlords just put the phone down on her immediately when they hear where she’s from, it is far easier for them just to rent to Poles who, by definition, are here legally. The EU freedom-of-movement rules promote this type of racism.

  45. Vanessa
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    The trouble with more interference with landlords will make them give up and sell up. This would put more pressure on Local Authorities to house the people evicted from once rentable properties. They would have to put them up in B&Bs which is expensive.

    Government should not keep chipping away at our freedoms because it usually has a consequence which is detrimental to government and which we all have to pay for in raised taxes. Just let us get on with our lives.

  46. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    It would be damned stupid NOT to discriminate between people who are here legally and people are here illegally. At least in some ways, without going to extremes for example by arbitrarily executing illegal immigrants. That Andy Burnham should object merely shows how many of our politicians have now become totally detached from the interests of the citizens of this country and how “human rights” have displaced “civil rights”.

  47. Monty
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    So what would actually happen to a landlord who finds illegal immigrants have contrived to move into his property?

    Let’s say he reports it to the police- they probably will do nothing. Neither will the Border Agency. The landlord has no legal right to throw them out, he has no legal right even to enter his own property so long as they are in residence. He may well have no grounds for an eviction order, if they are up to date with the rent.

    Government has put no framework in place to empower landlords to deal with this problem. Stop issuing NI numbers to non-citizens. Assemble a border force that isn’t a farce, end legal aid for deportation proceedings, enact legislation to deport illegals, build repatriation camps, and strongarm the foreign governments into accepting returnees. Then you will have some credibility when you ask the public to report anomalies.

  48. Douglas Carter
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    …’Asking landlords to help police our borders by requiring them to ensure a tenant is a legal resident in the UK to many makes sense.’…

    Subjective.

    We have a UKBA, a Home Office, the Police, the Courts, local Authorities, regional Authorities. The Law itself. International treaty assisting in the specific definition of who may be illegal.

    To pass that obligation down to the individual Landlord asserts the various failures – to once extent or another – of all of these agencies authorities and arrangements, all of which that luckless Landlord is likely to be generously funding through compulsory tax extraction.

    Therefore, I have a question evolving from that implication.

    If A.N. Landlord discovers that a tenant fails on the grounds of UK resident status, will those agencies mentioned above expel* that definitively illegal stayer – and practically entirely due to the intervention of that Landlord?

    (*Expel. Remove from the UK as fast as is practically possible any and all such individuals identified under any such scheme).

    Because, if (I suggest would be likely) the response would be ‘not necessarily’ then the compulsory intervention of the Landlord is only a purposeless bypass of official responsibility. An implied abrogation, even? Why would that Landlord bother where, all the above agencies and authorities having failed to discourage any such illegal resident, that those same agencies continue to decline to exercise that Authority even in the full knowledge?

    I recall at the time of the London Riots of 2011 many observers excusing some of the more egregious behaviour on the grounds that ‘Policing in an area is only by consent’.

    Well, taxation isn’t by consent. The agencies funded by that taxation should properly exercise their offices. If they do not properly now, I see no prospect they will be necessarily prompted to do so where the consequences of their inability to succeed is placed in the hands of unpaid private sources.

    In raw terms John, I see that the matter might have some immediate logic. Personally, I see a more than acceptable propensity for continued indifference by the proper Authorities and by Parliament.

  49. alte fritz
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    If landlords let through agents, they can have little confidence that the agents will manage a verification process efficiently. If they let direct, they may be compelled to pit their wits against people who are experienced in remaining under the radar. It is not right to turn us into a nation of informers.

  50. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, the EU has just declared Turkey to be a “safe country of origin”:

    https://euobserver.com/tickers/130639

    Surely this means that illegal immigrants crossing from Turkey to Greece are leaving a safe country and so cannot be regarded as refugees?

    While paradoxically they are going to Greece, which both the ECHR and ECJ have said is not a safe country for refugees.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted October 13, 2015 at 2:01 am | Permalink

      This merely shows that the EU, ECHR and ECJ don’t always get everything right.

      It doesn’t seem to have occurred to many people that fleeing families can have two motivations – first to escape a war zone, then to seek to settle in a country of their preference.

      A lot of the Syrian refugees say that they would eventually like to go back to Syria. Fine, issue them with one year residence permits, renewable annually. When the war stops, back they go.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 13, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        And when the second motivation kicks in they are no longer acting as refugees fleeing for their lives but instead economic migrants seeking a better life, and should be treated as such. I doubt if many of them will ever go home, except perhaps for visits when it seems safe enough, in some cases including visits to arrange for spouses for their children.

  51. Peter Parsons
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    There is (in England), no register of landlords and no register of rental properties. If no one actually knows who the landlords are and no one knows what properties they are actually renting, how is it possible to actually enforce laws such as this.

    Those who want to bypass this will no doubt find ways of doing so, while those who do their best to comply with the law risk 5 years in prison or a £10,000 fine for something which may well be beyond both their control and knowledge.

    As an example, what happens if legal tenants (checked by the landlord) choose to let a relative/friend/acquaintance stay in the property for a while. This is not sub-letting, and who would want to prevent people allowing someone they know to come and stay in their home? Now, say that individual (who is unknown to the landlord) happens to be, for example, in the UK on a student visa, and stays on beyond the official expiry date of said visa as a guest of the tenants. Who does this law put the responsibility for that person onto? Furthermore, given that the law also (quite reasonably) requires the landlord to give a minimum of 24 hours notice of access to the property, if there is a desire to keep the presence of this third party from the landlord, it is not difficult to do. Is the landlord now legally liable for knowing the immigration status of someone they don’t even know exists?

  52. Steven Jackson
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I am a landlord , have been for over 30 years…. So if I received an application to rent from, say , a Somalian who presented me with documentation which I understood gave him/her the right to remain in the UK for 6 months and I accepted the applicant and they signed a six month assured shorthold tenancy but then refused to leave at the end of that period. Where would that leave me?

  53. petermartin2001
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m just wondering where we draw the line on this one. If landlords have to check IDs and the legality of any tenant, what about the owners of B&Bs?
    What about hotels? Will the Ritz have to check the passport stamps of every resident to ensure they are in the country legally?

    If people aren’t here legally then its really down to the government to remove them. That would mean that we’d need to have random identity checks in the street. We’d need identity cards and require foreign visitors to carry their passports at all times.

    I suppose, in a democracy, if that’s what people want ………

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 13, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      What people want is for there to be no illegal immigrants in the country at all, which has never been exactly the case but came pretty close to that before the government decided to more or less give up on trying to keep them out.

  54. Jon
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    If they are an illegal immigrant then they can only be paying for rent through the black market and not paying tax. As a country, for all we have and do stand for, we can’t make that legal.

    In financial services we are all duty bound to report illegal or suspect financial transactions or gains by paid of prison, fines or both if we don’t. Does anyone hear us complain about that principle and call it “agent of the State”. Is it not a public duty?

    Yes we should place the law abiding, tax paying above those that look to steal from them.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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