The charity Crisis is warning that an unintended consequence of the controversial Right To Rent legislation which became law this week will be a rise in homelessness.
Under the legislation, new tenants have to produce paperwork to satisfy the landlord - or agent acting on a landlord’s behalf - that the would-be renter is entitled to be in the UK.
“Lots of homeless people simply don’t have identity documents. Their passport might have got lost or stolen when sleeping rough or moving round different accommodation, or they might never have had one at all” explains Sarah Macfadyen, policy manager at Crisis.
“People who have to leave their home in a hurry, like women fleeing domestic violence, often have to leave their possessions behind. Faced with a prospective tenant who doesn’t have a passport, landlords are likely to feel it’s easier to just rent to someone who can prove their right to rent easily” she says.
Macfadyen says Crisis and other charities have succeeded in persuading the government to build in some safeguards to Right To Rent, including a longer list of appropriate documents, some exemptions for emergency accommodation, and a code of practice.
But this is not enough, she warns.
“The evaluation of the [West Midlands] pilot found that local charities reported the scheme was causing homelessness. There was also some evidence of racial discrimination and awareness was very low amongst tenants. Nevertheless, the government chose to roll out the scheme across England” she says.
“The government has to do more to ensure this policy won’t make people homeless. At the very least, we are calling on the Home Office to carry out a full evaluation to monitor those unintended consequences that could be so devastating for the people affected.”