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Good news for landlords: Right to Rent scheme to be reviewed

The High Court is to allow a judicial review of the Government’s controversial Right to Rent scheme, part of its attempt to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, in a move that will be welcomed by landlords.

Under the policy, landlords have to carry out detailed checks to ensure the immigration status of all prospective tenants before allowing them to rent a property. Failure to comply means the risk of heavy fines and a possible five year jail sentence.

Critics says this puts landlords in the unenviable position of having to act as a kind of untrained border police, ties them up in red tape and leads to the discrimination of those who don’t have the documents to prove their right to be in the UK, including British people of the Windrush generation, as dramatically highlighted recently.

Challenge

The challenge is being brought by the Joint Council of Welfare and Immigrants (JCWI) and supported by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). It is also backed by a cross party group of MPs.

David Smith, the RLA’s policy director, said: “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 has described as having yet to demonstrate its worth.”

Deterrent

A survey by the JCWI, which says the Right to Rent policy is incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights, has found that as many as 51 per cent of landlords have been deterred from letting to foreign nationals because they are worried about being on the wrong side of the law.

Other figures show that:

  • Fines of more than £265,000 have been collected from landlords who haven’t complied with rules to check tenants eligibility to stay in the UK;
  • 405 landlords have been fined since the Right to Rent rules were introduced in England and Wales two years ago making the average fine £654 per landlord.

Chai Patel, the JCWI’s legal policy director, adds: “The Right to Rent scheme imposes costly red tape on every landlord in the UK and the Government has no evidence it’s working.

“Meanwhile, landlords themselves tell us it encourages them to discriminate against foreign nationals. Denying individuals the right to rent property only increases the power of exploitative rogue landlords and employers.”

For more information about this area of the law, and landlord and tenant disputes, please contact James Murray.

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