Government inspector casts doubt on 'Right to Rent'

by Gary Whittaker

A government inspector has cast serious doubt on the value and effectiveness of the Right to Rent policy, which places a legal duty on landlords to carry out background checks to assess if a tenant has the legal right to reside in the UK. 

Under the laws, any landlord failing to do this faces potential legal sanctions, but the independent inspector of borders and immigration David Bolt has criticised the system in a new report. 

Mr Bolt said the policy had not so far managed to "demonstrate its worth" as a means of tackling illegal immigration, adding the accusation that the Home Office is guilty of "failing to co-ordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders".

Coming as it does from one of the people in charge of implementing the rules, the criticism will embolden those arguing on behalf of immigrants and landlords alike that the system is unworkable, placing unfair burdens on landlords and also creating many cases of hardship for legitimate immigrants.

Landlord bodies like the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have been campaigning against the system and have backed a couple of legal cases being brought on behalf of immigrants who have run into difficulties, including one stateless person whose existing documentation had been lost by the Home Office. 

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is seeking a judicial review of the system, with legal director Chai Patel saying: "It's disgraceful that the Home Office has refused to properly evaluate whether or not the right to rent scheme is actually working to reduce irregular migration. They have no idea."

RLA policy director David Smith added his criticism, remarking: "Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy."

With so much opposition to the policy, it may be that ministers will be pressured - or forced by legal means - into either dropping it altogether or at least substantially reducing the burden of proof landlords need.
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28-March-18General Lettings News