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Right To Rent: court case may weaken government's power to enforce rules

An industry body is suggesting that the outcome of a court case may significantly reduce the government’s ability to enforce its Right To Rent policy.

The Residential Landlords’ Association says in a case involving Ryanair appealing against fines imposed for carrying illegal immigrants into the UK, the judge held that the way the regime for airlines to check passports is operated by the Home Office “offends the basic concepts of justice and indeed rule of law.”

The association says it is significant that the judge noted that airline staff could not be expected to spot cleverly forged passports that even trained immigration officers found hard to detect.


The ruling is not binding on other courts it does raise that prospect that under the government’s Right to Rent scheme that expects landlords and their instructed letting agents to check the immigration status of their tenants. 

But the RLA claims a landlord who has also been duped by a good, forged document would be likely to be successful with an appeal against any action taken against them by the Home Office.

The ruling comes just days before the House of Lords debates a motion seeking to suspend the roll out of the right to rent scheme across the country.

 “This court ruling vindicates what we have been saying all along, that landlords cannot and should not be expected to act as border police or to detect forgeries that trained and experienced airline staff and immigration officers might miss” says RLA policy director David Smith. 

“In light of this case … we call on the government to provide better information … about document forgeries and offer more clarity as to the legal responsibility of landlords duped by forged identify documents.”

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    Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should be doing these checks at all, but as far as I understood they have never expected us to spot forgeries or would we be in trouble for allowing an illegal to rent from us, provided we have seen/taken/copied/stored evidence, such as a passport (even if it later turns out that the document was a forgery). The trouble will come for not performing a check of any kind.

    The news for me in this article is that the House of Lords is debating a motion to suspend the roll out...although it IS already 'rolled out' so suspend seems to be the wrong word...

    Billy the Fish

    Precisely my thoughts!

  • Terence Dicks

    We have been carrying out the trial in the West Midlands, and checking for forgeries has never been mentioned.

    Unless it has been drawn in crayon by a five year old, I would not know how to find out if an overseas passport is a forgery.

    I also believe it will be very difficult to know what a "forged identify document" is.


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