Right to Rent case goes to court
A High Court case starting this week could see the government's controversial Right to Rent policy being declared illegal.
Both the National Landlords' Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords' Association (RLA) are firmly opposed to the policy, which places a duty on landlords to check if prospective tenants have the legal right to be in the UK, despite their lack of specialist expertise in immigration matters.
The case has been brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). Like the NLA and RLA, it believes the policy discriminates against immigrants such as the Windrush generation, many of whom will not have the necessary documents to hand.
Because of this, the JCWI believes the policy is discriminatory and is inimical to the European Convention of Human Rights.
The Joint Council's own research found 51 per cent of landlords said they were less likely to rent to non-EU tenants because of the Right to Rent laws, while 42 per cent were not as likely to rent to those lacking UK passports. The latter figure rose to 48 per cent when landlords were reminded of the criminal sanctions they could face.
RLA director of policy David Smith said: "The Windrush scandal has shown that even trained immigration officers can make serious mistakes. This highlights how inappropriate it is to demand that untrained landlords become enforcers of government immigration policy."
The NLA recently wrote to the new home secretary Sajid Javid about the policy, urging him to reconsider it. It suggested that as he was until recently communities secretary and in charge of housing policy, he would know well from his work with the NLA what kind of issues private landlords and tenants have had to deal with.
Figures published last month by the Home Office revealed that UK landlords had carried out 405 Right to Rent checks since the policy was introduced two years ago.