Right to Rent:

The High Court (6th June) has given the go ahead for a judicial review to be launched into the Government’s Right to Rent policy.

Rolled out across England from February 2017, the scheme requires landlords to check and identify every new tenant applicant to see if they have a right to reside in the country. This means that, similar to employers with employees, they have to check the applicant’s immigration status.

However, since its implementation last year, some campaigners have argued that the scheme has prevented some disadvantaged British citizens, those lacking passports and driving licences, have been prevented from obtaining a tenancy, while others in minority groups have been discriminated against.

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Consequently, some cross-party MPs and immigration lawyers wanted to challenge the policy and sought consent from the High Court to allow this judicial review.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which led the bid for a review, said through its spokesperson that they were pleased with the court’s decision, stating: “Like many other aspects of the hostile environment, the Right to Rent creates real risks of discrimination.”

The JCWI has now been granted permission by the High Court to proceed with its legal challenge against the policy, supported by some of the leading landlord representative bodies.

According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) the Right to Rent was a flagship part of the “hostile environment strategy” against illegal immigrants, which was introduced under the then Home Secretary, now Prime Minister Theresa May, whilst she was at the Home Office.

Commenting on the decision of the High Court to allow a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy, RLA Policy Director David Smith said:

“Landlords will welcome the High Court decision to allow a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy which has put them in the impossible position of acting as untrained Border Police trying to ascertain who does and who does not have the right to be in the country.

“This has created difficulties for many legitimate tenants as landlords are forced to play safe and only rent to those with a UK passport.”

“The announcement is an important step towards overturning a policy which the government’s own inspectorate had described as having yet to demonstrate its worth.”

In a recent report on the scheme by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Bolt concludes that the policy has:

“yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance” and that the Home Office is: “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders.”


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