One of the industry’s leading trade bodies wants the government to halt the Right To Rent programme after evidence shows some 42 per cent of landlords are less likely to consider renting to someone without a British passport.
The Residential Landlords Association says it wants the temporary halt because it is concerned especially at the impact it is having on the 17 per cent of UK residents who do not have a passport.
The research carried out by the RLA’s Private renting Evidence, Analysis and Research Lab - PEARL - found that 49 per cent of landlords are now less likely to consider letting to someone who has permission to stay in the UK for a limited time-period.
With the foreign-born population almost three times as likely to be in the private rental sector compared to UK-born nationals, this is creating difficulties for them in finding accommodation.
A recent BBC investigation found that criminal gangs are helping undocumented immigrants to flout the law by selling them fake identity documents, and PEARL says there is concern that this will make landlords even more reluctant to rent to overseas nationals or UK citizens without a passport because of the criminal sanctions they face for getting things wrong.
Under the Right to Rent scheme landlords or their agents 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.
Whilst in October the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration announced a new review of the Right to Rent, it warned that this “will not examine any unintended consequences of Right to Rent, for example discrimination against would-be tenants, increased homelessness, or displacement.”
This is because, it said, it “does not have the capacity to conduct a meaningful examination of the unintended consequences of Right to Rent at this time.”
RLA policy director David Smith says his organisation has long argued that Right to Rent would cause difficulties for legitimate tenants who cannot easily prove their identity.
“Faced with the fear of criminal sanctions many landlords are understandably playing it safe” he says.
“Given the scale of the housing crisis, any policy that makes it harder for those legally able to access the homes they need is a travesty. It is absurd to conduct a review of the scheme without looking at all the consequences. That is why it is vital that the Home Office suspends the scheme pending a full and detailed assessment of its impact on tenants and prospective tenants.”