The controversial Right To Rent regime whereby agents and landlords are expected to check the immigration status of would-be tenants is to be challenged in court this week.
A case brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants claims that the policy is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and must be reviewed before it is rolled out any further.
Back in February Letting Agent Today reported that the Residential Landlords Association was backing two legal challenges to Right To Rent - one of them from the JCWI and the other initiated by London’s Camden Community Law Centre.
Research by the JCWI has found that the scheme has made 51 per cent of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals. This is backed up by similar research by the RLA; it says that after surveying almost 2,800 landlords, as many as 43 per cent admitted they were were less likely to rent to anyone without a UK passport, and 46 per cent less likely to rent to a foreign national from outside the EU.
And over the weekend The Observer reported that Eric Pickles, the former Conservative communities secretary, was amongst politicians who opposed the introduction of Right To Rent, “suggesting that the plans would force anyone worried about their immigration status into the arms of rogue landlords.”
The Observer says the RLA, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Shelter, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, and Liberty are among the groups to have raised concerns.
The newspaper quotes Phillippa Kaufmann QC, who is representing JCWI, as saying: “Landlords are incentivised by the very nature of the scheme to go down the path of least resistance ... If they have someone who comes to them with a British passport, they know they are at no risk of criminal liability ... JCWI argues that the government is not in any position to justify this policy because it has not gathered any evidence that its ‘hostile environment’ is having any effect.”
A Home Office spokeswoman told the newspaper: “It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”