The BBC says Right To Rent legislation is fuelling a burgeoning market in fake IDs – in some cases creating access to property to the illegal migrants that it was supposed to identify and prevent.
Right to Rent – which has been sharply criticised from many parts of the lettings sector, for making agents and landlords act as de facto immigration officers – was piloted in parts of the West Midlands in December 2014 and then extended to the rest of England in February 2016.
Landlords, their agents, and anybody who sublets or takes in lodgers, could face a financial penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be letting property to someone who has no right to stay in the UK.
Now an undercover reporter for the BBC London programme Inside Out has found it possible to purchase counterfeit passports, as well as National Insurance cards and residence permits from illegal dealers across London. For only £500 it was possible to get a fake passport, with documents arriving as quickly as 48 hours after being ‘purchased’.
The show then reveals letting agents, unwittingly being presented with the fake ID, and accepting them as proof of UK residency status.
“In an average week they were selling between six to 10 fake residence permits or passports. In the last few months or so I would say they got even busier” one person involved in the trade told the BBC.
Zack Adesina, the reporter on the BBC London Inside Out show, told BBC Online: “The counterfeit passports I saw and acquired from the ID fraudsters were remarkably convincing at first glance. Professionally bound and sealed, some even feature mock biometric imprints. They are made with good quality materials and they also pass the touch test, feeling like the real thing.
“But they don’t withstand intense scrutiny. The photos on three appeared too small and the lettering somehow seemed dodgy but then, those selling them know they need not be perfect” he added.
The Home Office has not responded to a BBC Freedom of Information request asking how many landlords had been criminally prosecuted or imprisoned as a result of the Right To Rent legislation.