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Government inspector slams right to rent scheme

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The Government’s flagship Right to Rent policy has been attacked as having failed “to demonstrate its worth” in encouraging immigration compliance.

Under Right to Rent landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants with the prospect of prosecution 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 rent in the UK.

In a foreword to his report on the scheme, published today, David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration concludes the policy has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance” and that the Home Office is “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders.”

The Government’s response to the report rules out including groups concerned with the rights and interests of migrants on its consultative panel on the policy, thereby preventing the experiences of migrants themselves from being properly heard by the Government.

Ministers have also failed to accept the Inspector’s call for a more meaningful evaluation of the impact of the scheme on all those affected by it.

The RLA is calling for the Right to Rent to be suspended pending a full evaluation of its impact, especially on the ability to rent a property of those who cannot easily prove their identity.

The fear of criminal sanctions has made many landlords reluctant to rent to non-UK nationals out of fear of being duped by forged documents.

Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has found that the scheme has made 51 per cent of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals.

This is backed up by figures from the RLA’s research arm PEARL, which found 42% were now less likely to consider letting to someone without a British Passport, with 49% saying they were less likely to consider letting to someone who had permission to stay in the UK for a limited time-period.

The same JCWI research found that 48 per cent of landlords were less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme because of the threat of criminal sanctions. This poses serious difficulties for the 17 per cent of UK residents who do not have a passport.

The RLA is supporting a Judicial Review of the policy being sought by the JCWI which argues that the policy discriminates against foreign nationals.

David Smith, RLA policy director said: “Today’s report is a damning critique of a failing policy.

“The Inspector is clear that it has yet to demonstrate its worth and the Government has failed to take on board the concerns of key stakeholders in the sector.

“Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”

Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, has said: “It’s disgraceful that the Home Office has refused to properly evaluate whether or not the right to rent scheme is actually working to reduce irregular migration. They have no idea.

“Unsurprisingly the Home Office has also refused to allow groups representing the migrants and ethnic minorities affected by this discriminatory scheme to sit on its consultative panel.

“It’s time for Amber Rudd to put an end to this divisive mess of a policy that forces landlords to act as immigration officials. Until she does, we will continue to challenge it in the courts.”



About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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