The Queen's Speech in May raised the controversial
issue of landlords being forced to pay for immigration checks on
Now it seems that the government may have had the
opportunity three years ago to adopt an immigration-checking
service at no cost to landlords or the taxpayer, but turned the
offer down flat.
Janie Gaston, operations manager for FCC Paragon, claims
that the firm offered a "credible free solution" to the Deputy
Prime Minister in 2010. The service was trialled with the UK Border
Agency, and was successful in identifying some residents who should
not have been allowed to work in the UK.
Gaston said: "We like to think we are a forward thinking
company and our experience in this field led us to recognise the
issues and try to tackle it head on."
The scheme was utilised in cases where there was already
some doubt concerning the individual's nationality or right to
remain in the country. When FCC Paragon offered it to the
government in 2010, they did so on the basis that implementation of
the program would cost the state nothing.
Current tenant-checking scheme will require
landlords to pay
Gaston criticised the new program which will require
landlords to foot the bill for background checks, saying, "this is
just another regulatory burden for landlords and will not do
anything to tackle immigration problems, as professional landlords
will already be taking such measures via thorough tenant
"Landlords have not been provided with a solution. They
don't know where to go to verify documents or how long it will
take, and most wouldn't know if they were looking at a fraudulent
document or not. This is a risky and careless step for the
Government to have taken."