A Byzantine System
Speaking to the Landlord Law Conference this year I was struck by how many people now need to understand more about the workings of the immigration system.
The Government has decided to outsource many of its responsibilities to landlords, healthcare workers, employers, banks, and wants to create a “hostile environment” for people who fall foul of immigration rules. But the rules have become so complex that even the courts now describe them as “Byzantine”.
Brexit is unlikely to make this simpler!
All landlords have a hard time with this, but social landlords face real dilemmas.
The social landlord’s dilemma
Housing associations and local authorities offer homes to those in need but must find the resources to do so. So they are increasingly turning to the private rented sector, to building for private rent to subsidise other housing, or otherwise diversifying.
Then they run up against the “right to rent” to add to the existing rules about eligibility. And, like other landlords, they must also be careful not to discriminate. It often feels like they walk a tightrope between making it fair and making it legal.
And social services may need to put a roof over the head of the most vulnerable, including migrant families with children or the disabled or long term sick, who may not have any entitlement to benefits or other housing. Some housing associations want to help street homeless migrants so they can have a secure base while they sort out their immigration problems.
The problems with keeping faith with your ideals
All that confusion and complexity may be good news for trainers like me (do contact Easy Law Training if you want a course or workshop on housing eligibility or the right to rent).
But for housing associations and others keen to keep faith with the ideals on which they were set up and also stay on the right side of the law it is discouraging.
Some housing associations have agreed to sign a pledge to work fairly with migrants, which is now being promoted by BME associations nationally: they hope the larger associations will join them. But they still need help in negotiating the increasingly complex environment in which they have to work and their tenants have to live.
Help is at hand
So two associations, ARHAG and Innisfree have teamed up with Praxis Community Projects to organise a conference where they could get advice from the experts, find out about the latest developments and meet others in the field. And here it is.
On 20th June you can come to the lovely Amnesty International UK’s Human Rights Action Centre in London and hear
- David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation talk about housing migrants in hard times
- Terrie Alafat, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing on what Brexit means for those housing migrants
- Jennette Arnold OBE, Chair of the London Assembly welcoming us all
- Dr Nigel de Noronha on housing, migration, discrimination and disadvantage
- Adrian Berry, Barrister from Garden Court chambers on negotiating eligibility and preventing discrimination
- Patrick Duce and Sally Daghlian on housing destitute migrants, and
- Sue Lukes, Migrationwork (ahem) on working well with your migrant tenants and customers
Plus a surprise guest who will celebrate the fact that many associations have signed the pledge to be fair to migrants
So it should be quite an event! Do sign up for it and if you want to discuss discounts for multiple tickets, contact me sue.lukes @ migrationwork.org