Government facing a legal challenge over Right to Rent checks

Right to Rent impacting Britons without a passport

The government has been threatened with legal action over the controversial immigration checks which landlords are expected to undertake when letting out their rental properties.

Right to Rent checks were introduced in the Immigration Act 2014, as part of the government’s reforms to build a ‘fairer and more effective’ immigration system, and requires private landlords to check if a tenant can legally rent a property by checking they have the appropriate documents to prove they are entitled to live in the UK, before a tenancy commences.

According to a study, published earlier this year by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), many foreigners and Britons without a passport, are being discriminated against in the private rental sector as a result of the scheme, which was initially designed to prevent irregular immigration.

The study revealed that 51% of landlords said the Right to Rent scheme made them less willing to rent their property to foreign nationals, with 42% claiming they are now less likely to rent to someone without a British passport.

Landlords who fail to check a tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ could face a penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant and a possible prison sentence of up to 5 years.

The JCWI have written to the Home Office asking for the scheme to be re-evaluated and threaten legal action if the government fail to comply.

Sean Grant, chief executive of JCWI, commented: “In the face of clear evidence of discrimination under Right to Rent, the government must show it is not acting illegally before it presses ahead with a rollout to the rest of the UK.

“This is a scheme that not only discriminates against BME Britons, foreign nationals and British nationals without passports – it imposes costs on landlords, agents and tenants too.

He added: “In the absence of any clear plan to monitor its effects the Government must carry out a thorough review – until then, any extension to other parts of the UK would be premature, dangerous, and potentially illegal.”

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