Right to Rent:
A recent legal case has brought the controversial Right-to-Rent scheme into further disrepute, given that and existing High Court judgement* earlier this month deemed the scheme unlawful on discrimination grounds.
On the 1st of March the High Court decided that the scheme breached the European Convention on Human Rights on the basis that it discriminated against non-UK nationals with the right to rent and British ethnic minorities when landlords and agents made their letting decisions.
The scheme – designed to prevent those without a right to reside in the UK to be prevented from renting a property after due diligence checks by landlords or letting agents – has now been embroiled in another different legal ruling on discrimination grounds.
In situations where the Home Office informs the landlord that an existing tenant does not have the right to reside, or where the tenant’s right to reside has expired, it will issue a formal notice to the landlord which then forms the basis of the landlord’s claim for possession through the courts.
That’s the theory. But in a new judgement issued by the High Court it has ruled that this breaches the Equality Act on the basis that it amounts to “direct discrimination on the basis of nationality.”
According to the Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA), “whilst the wording of the Act means that the Home Secretary cannot be prosecuted for this, landlords who are forced to comply with the notice can be charged under the law as well as being at risk of a civil claim being made against them.”
This new ruling therefore gives those existing tenants, who may not have the right to reside in the country, a valid defence against any claim to evict them. It will allow them to take out an injunction to prevent an eviction and possibly any further claim for damages.
David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, said:
“This new ruling makes the Right to Rent a farce. To put landlords in a position where acting on a direct instruction provided by the Home Office leaves them open to breaching equality law cannot be tolerated.
“With the High Court having ruled that discrimination is baked into the Right to Rent scheme it is time for the policy to be scrapped altogether.”
The most recent case in question is that of R (Goloshvili) v Secretary of State: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/614.html
*“The measures have a disproportionately discriminatory effect and I would assume and hope that those legislators who voted in favour of the Scheme would be aghast to learn of its discriminatory effect…” Mr Justice Spencer
R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) Claimant – and – Secretary of State for the Home Department Defendant – and – (1) Residential Landlords Association (2) Equality and Human Rights Commission (3) Liberty: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/452.pdf