Law News

Discrimination Under Right to Rent Scheme is Unlawful, Minister Insists

Rose Jinks - March 7, 2019

It is unlawful to discriminate against any potential tenants under provisions of the Right to Rent scheme, the Minister for Immigration has insisted. 

Caroline Nokes MP spoke out after the High Court ruled the scheme in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights last week. 

The High Court ruled that Parliament’s decision to impose Right to Rent checks is outweighed by the potential for race discrimination by landlords and letting agents conducting these inspections, which Nokes described as “disappointing”.

“We disagree with this finding and the Home Office has been granted permission to appeal all aspects of the judgement,” she added.

However, Nokes insisted that the requirements under the Right to Rent scheme remain in force; there is no immediate change to the operation of the policy. 

“Landlords and letting agents are still obliged to conduct Right to Rent checks as required in legislation,” she explained. “They must not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their colour or where they come from.”

Nokes also pointed to comments made by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, regarding options for a further evaluation of the operation of the scheme. As part of this, the Government will “look to develop further mechanisms to monitor the operation of the scheme to provide ongoing assurance about its impact”.

The Home Secretary has written to the independent adviser on lessons learned from the Windrush scandal, Wendy Williams, to draw her attention to the High Court ruling.

“The Right to Rent Consultative Panel will meet again next month to look at the operation of the scheme, and the guidance provided to landlords and letting agents,” Nokes revealed.

She clarified: “The Government is committed to tackling discrimination in all its forms and to having an immigration system which provides control, but which is also fair, humane and fully complaint with the law. This includes ensuring illegal migrants, with no right to be in the UK, are not able to access work, benefits and public services.”

The Right to Rent scheme was first trialled in the West Midlands, before its national introduction in 2016. The trial was evaluated in full, with the results published in October 2015.

The Home Office assessment found no systematic discrimination on the basis of race.

Landlords and letting agents are reminded that the Right to Rent scheme is still a legal requirement, despite the High Court’s ruling last week.