Call for right to rent policy to be scrapped in the UK

The next British Prime Minister is being urged to scrap the controversial Right to Rent scheme, with a coalition of organisations pointing out that the High Court has ruled it causes discrimination.

The Residential Landlords Association, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the3million, which represents European Union citizens in the UK, also say that the policy has been a failure.

Under the policy, landlords in the private rented sector have to carry out check to make sure tenants have the right to rent a home in the UK and face potential imprisonment of up to five years if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to do so.

The High Court earlier this year rule that Right to Rent breaches human rights law because it causes racial discrimination that otherwise would not happen. Following a Judicial Review of the policy secured by the JCWI and supported by the RLA, the presiding judge concluded that discrimination by landlords was taking place and this was ‘logical and wholly predictable’ when faced with potential sanctions and penalties for getting things wrong.

The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has also concluded the Right to Rent had yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance.

‘The Right to Rent has been a failure. No one has been prosecuted under the scheme but it has created a great deal of anxiety for landlords who do not want to go to prison for getting it wrong. Landlords should not be used to cover for the failings in the UK Border Agencies,’ said David Smith, RLA policy director.

According to Nicolas Hatton, chief executive officer of the3million, some two thirds of EU citizens in the UK live in private rented housing and could be affected. ‘We are already seeing that landlords are less likely to rent to anyone without a British passport, and uncertainty about Brexit added to the hostile environment will only increase the discrimination EU citizens are facing. We urge the UK government to scrap this scheme and end the discrimination,’ he said.

Chai Patel, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, urged whoever becomes the new Prime Minister to commit to ending landlord immigration checks, and the discrimination they cause.