“Right to Rent” scheme violates Human Rights Law
The High Court ruled that the government’s “Right to Rent” scheme violates Human Rights law. The hearing took place on 1 March 2019. This program obliges landlords to check the immigration status of tenants before signing the tenancy contracts, as well as conducting regular checks throughout entire lease and its extension.
The “Right to Rent” policy was introduced in 2016 by Theresa May as a part of a plan to create ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants under the 2014 Immigration Act. Under this policy all landlords should conduct checks of the immigration status of the potential tenants and lodgers in order to rent the residential property. Landlords could potentially face a prison sentence of up to five years or receive a fine if they rent a place for a person, who does not have leave to remain in the UK. The scheme was meant to be thoroughly and transparently evaluated, but no such evaluations were conducted and there is no data that the scheme has the intended effect.
Judge Martin Spencer ruled that this program violates the European Convention on Human Rights and leads to discrimination against non-UK citizens and British ethnic minorities in respect of their rental rights. The judge also stated that it would be illegal to open this scheme in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) started a legal case to challenge the scheme in summer of 2018 and requested the High Court to review its key points as they claimed that “Right to rent” scheme causes racial discrimination and prevents people who have the right to rent from doing so.
According to a recent research made by the Residential Landlord Association (RLA), 44% of private landlords are less likely to rent accommodation to those who do not have a British passport. It was also found that 53% of landlords are less likely to rent to people who are in the country with a limited leave to remain and 20% said that they were less likely to consider renting premises to EU and EEA citizens. RLA called on the government to scrap the “Right to Rent” scheme and consider alternative ways to manage migration without relying on untrained landlords doing job of Home Office officers.
The Home Office official stated that: “We are disappointed with the judgment and we have been granted permission to appeal, which reflects the important points of law that were considered in the case – in the meantime, we are giving careful consideration to the judge’s comments.”
The legal status of the rules is still unclear. But Right to Rent is still in force and landlords are advised to conduct necessary checks as usual.
Posted on Mar 04, 2019.