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Leadership hopefuls told right to rent must be scrapped

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Conservative Party leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are being urged to scrap the controversial Right to Rent scheme.

A coalition of organisations made up of the Residential Landlords Association, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the3million, which represents EU citizens in the UK, have united in calling on both candidates to scrap the policy after the High Court ruled it causes discrimination against British ethnic minorities 

Under the policy, private landlords 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 rent in the UK.

It was introduced by Theresa May when Home Secretary as part of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’. 

The call for its abolition follows damning criticism by the High Court earlier this year that the 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 “because of the Scheme.” 

In his judgment he said that discrimination by landlords was “logical and wholly predicable” 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”. 

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “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.”

Nicolas Hatton, CEO of the3million said:Two-thirds of EU citizens in the UK live in private rented housing and will be affected if this failed scheme continues.”

“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.”

Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The Home Office is now arguing in its appeal that it is justified in causing racial discrimination against British ethnic minority families struggling to find a home. It is arguing that black and brown British people’s dignity, humanity, and rights can be tossed aside to pursue Theresa May’s Hostile Environment.  

“That cannot be acceptable in modern Britain. The new Prime Minister must commit to ending landlord immigration checks, and the discrimination they cause”.  

  • The RLA’s most recent research on the Right to Rent can be accessed here.
  • The RLA offers guidance on Right to Rent. To access the guide click here.
  • The association also offers a Right to Rent training course. To find out more about the eLearning course click here

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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