Regulation and Enforcement

High Court agrees to review of Right to Rent policy

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

The High Court has given permission for a legal review to be launched into the Government’s Right to Rent policy.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has been granted permission by the High Court to proceed with their legal challenge against the policy, which the RLA supports.

Right to Rent is a flagship part of the ‘hostile environment’ strategy for illegal immigrants introduced by the Prime Minister whilst she was at the Home Office.

Under the Right to Rent scheme, 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.

Commenting on the decision of the High Court to allow for a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy, RLA Policy Director David Smith said: “Landlords will welcome the High Court decision to allow a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy which has put them in the impossible position of acting as untrained Border Police trying to ascertain who does and who does not have the right to be in the country.

“This has created difficulties for many legitimate tenants as landlords are forced to play safe and only rent to those with a UK passport.”

“The announcement is an important step towards overturning a policy which the government’s own inspectorate had described as having yet to demonstrate its worth.”

Both the RLA and the JCWI argue that the Right to Rent policy discriminates against foreign nationals, as well those such as the Windrush generation, who cannot easily prove their right to remain in the UK.

A study by the RLA’s research arm PEARL has found that as a result of the right to rent policy, 42 per cent of landlords are now less likely to rent to someone without a British passport for fear of prosecution for getting things wrong.

This poses serious difficulties for the 17 per cent of UK residents who do not have a passport, a group that is more likely to be in rented accommodation.

Nearly half (49%) of landlords are less likely to rent to someone with limited leave to remain and 44 per cent of landlords would only rent to those with documents familiar to them.

In practice, this is likely to again mean a British passport.

In a recent report on the scheme, 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.”

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

1 Comment

  • Although perfectly willing to let to foreigners (typically well funded M E students paying substantial rents), I can understand that at lower price points it becomes more contentious.

    Of greater concern is that policy is simply not fit for purpose given the tenants right to “peaceful enjoyment” as soon as you hand over the keys, no landlord can ever know with absolute certainty who is using the property; at least the Home Office will have to think again with regards to immigration control.

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