Law News

Government Inspector Attacks Right to Rent Scheme

Rose Jinks - April 3, 2018

A Government inspector has attacked the controversial Right to Rent scheme, saying it has failed “to demonstrate its worth” in encouraging compliance with immigration law.

Under the scheme, landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of all prospective tenants, with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that someone who does not have the legal right to rent in the UK occupies that the property that they are letting.

We have an informative guide from the Home Office on how the scheme operates:

Government Inspector Attacks Right to Rent Scheme

Government Inspector Attacks Right to Rent Scheme

In a foreword to his report on the scheme, David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, 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”.

The Government’s response to the report rules out including groups concerned with the rights and interests of migrants on its consultative panel on the policy, thereby preventing the experiences of migrants themselves from being properly heard by the Government. Ministers have also failed to accept the inspector’s call for a more meaningful evaluation of the impact of the scheme on all those affected by it.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling for the Right to Rent scheme to be suspended pending a full evaluation of its impact, especially on the ability to let a property to those who cannot easily prove their identity.

The fear of criminal sanctions has made many landlords reluctant to let to non-UK nationals, out of fear of being duped by forged documents.

Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has found that the scheme has made 51% of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals. This is backed by a similar study by the RLA.

The same JCWI research also found that 48% of landlords were less likely to let to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme, due to the threat of criminal sanctions. This poses serious difficulties to the 17% of UK residents who do not have a passport.

The RLA is supporting a judicial review of the policy being sought by the JCWI, which argues that the scheme discriminates against foreign nationals.

David Smith, the Director of Policy at the RLA, comments: “Today’s report is a damning critique of a failing policy. The inspector is clear that it has yet to demonstrate its worth and the Government has failed to take on board the concerns of key stakeholders in the sector.

“Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”

Chai Patel, the Legal Policy Director of the JCWI, adds: “It’s disgraceful that the Home Office has refused to properly evaluate whether or not the Right to Rent scheme is actually working to reduce irregular migration. They have no idea. Unsurprisingly, the Home Office has also refused to allow groups representing the migrants and ethnic minorities affected by this discriminatory scheme to sit on its consultative panel.

“It’s time for Amber Rudd to put an end to this divisive mess of a policy that forces landlords to act as immigration officials. Until she does, we will continue to challenge it in the courts.”

Landlords, do you agree that the scheme should be abolished?