THE Home Office is to reconvene its Private Rented Sector (PRS) stakeholder panel on Right to Rent, following pressure from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
The RLA has welcomed the news the Government is willing to re-engage with the sector, and that a new meeting of the panel has been scheduled for October.
Right to Rent is a flagship part of the ‘compliant environment’ strategy for illegal immigrants introduced by the Prime Minister whilst she was at the Home Office.
Under the 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.
It has been controversial from the start and the RLA has serious concerns that the policy could lead to indirect discrimination, with landlords – forced to act as ‘border police’ – likely to play it safe when it comes to renting out their homes.
Indeed, a study by the RLA’s research arm PEARL found 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.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) , supported by the RLA, was granted permission by the High Court to proceed with their legal challenge against the policy.
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. It also creates ‘document discrimination’ with many vulnerable tenants not holding the most common identity documents. The challenge is due to be heard in December.
David Smith, RLA policy director said: “It appears the Government is reforming the PRS stakeholder panel – which has been defunct for some time now.
“While we welcome the news the Home Office is keen to re-engage with the sector, we want to see them take bold action.
“Would-be tenants who are legally entitled to live in the UK, but struggle to prove it, are being denied homes and we believe the time has come to suspend this unfair scheme.”
The RLA runs a Right to Rent e-learning course. To find out more click here.