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Right to rent guidance breaks the law

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

New guidance from the government on its Right to Rent scheme would see landlords breaking the law if they followed it. 

The document says that for nationals from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States (known as  B5JSSK nationals), planning on staying in the UK for up to six months, landlords will only be required to see their passport and airline ticket as proof that they can rent property. They do not need a visa.

Whilst this guidance has no legal standing, the legally binding Code of Practice agreed by Parliament makes clear that for such nationals landlords must be shown clear evidence from the Home Office that the holder has the right, either permanent, or for a time limited period, to reside in the UK

The RLA argues a simple airline ticket with a passport does not meet this threshold. 

Without a corresponding change to the Code of Practice by Parliament, the guidance does not give ANY legal cover for landlords should a tenant stay longer than six months.

Following a court judgement that Right to Rent breaches human rights law because it causes racial discrimination that otherwise would not happen, the RLA has written to the Home Secretary calling for the scheme to be scrapped altogether. 

Under the Right to Rent 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 for immigrants.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “This represents a new low in the sorry saga of the Right to Rent.

“Having already been ruled to be discriminatory by the High Court, the government is now putting out guidance which could leave landlords open to prosecution.

“It reinforces once against that the Right to Rent policy needs to go and go now.”

To read the RLA’s most recent research on Right to Rent click here.

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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