A damning critique of the one-year-old Right To Rent legislation in England suggests that the government is largely unaware of its impact, whether it is being conducted regularly, or whether some agents and landlords ignore it completely.
John Perry, a senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Housing, says the government should rethink the scheme before rolling it out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as it says it will.
Perry - writing in The Guardian - says no one knows whether Right to Rent is working in its objective to avoid giving accommodation to illegal migrants, or even whether it is being applied at all.
“The Home Office has admitted it cannot monitor the scheme and it’s a fair bet given the limited publicity that at least a proportion of England’s 1.8m private landlords are still completely unaware of it” he says.
He says organisations that the CIH works with, such as housing advice agencies and migrant advisory bodies, says it’s now harder for legal migrants to rent.
“Refugees who have been accepted in the UK often have to wait many weeks for documents to prove it – and many become homeless because they can’t get either a social or a private tenancy” claims Perry.
“Meanwhile British people can also be affected if they have no passport or other accepted proof of UK residence, and there are a raft of other circumstances that could mean a person may not satisfy the checks” he warns.
He says there are an estimated 11,300 daily Right To Rent checks, but that up to December 2016 only 654 undocumented individuals were discovered attempting to rent. “The additional work by landlords was estimated by the government to cost a staggering £4.7m a year” writes Perry.
“It’s time for the government to seriously reconsider the impact of right to rent on vulnerable tenants and would-be tenants before it is rolled out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s simply not good enough to claim that the scheme has a deterrent effect when the proven benefits are so limited and there are regular reports of the damage being caused” he concludes.
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