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Right To Rent: industry and government go back to court

Both sides of the Right To Rent debate are squaring up for their latest court battle.

Earlier this year the High Court ruled that elements of the existing Right To Rent legislation breached equalities law.

Under the Right to Rent scheme agents or landlords 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 a right to rent in the UK. 


Where the Home Office identifies a tenant without the right to rent, it will issue a formal notice to the landlord who then uses this as the basis to repossess the property. 

But a judgement issued by the High Court has ruled that this breaches the Equality Act on the basis that it amounts to “direct discrimination on the basis of nationality.”

Now the government is appealing the High Court decision; in response, a trade body has won a preliminary victory in securing the right to put its case to the appeal.

The Court of Appeal has now agreed that the Residential Landlords Association will be able to make a written and oral submission to the case ensuring that the views of the industry are to be at the centre of the case.

Under the Right to Rent policy, private landlords face potential imprisonment of up to five years 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. 

Last month the RLA - together with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the3million which represents EU citizens in the UK - called on Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to scrap the Right to Rent if they became Prime Minister.

Now David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says: “The Right to Rent has been a failure. No one has been prosecuted under the scheme but it has created a great deal of anxiety for landlords who do not want to go to prison for getting it wrong.

“We are disappointed that the government has chosen to appeal against what was a clear and damning verdict by the High Court. However, we will ensure that the views of landlords are well represented as we send a message that they should not be used to cover for the failings in the UK border agencies.”


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