Some landlords are giving preference to potential tenants who are white with British passports, due to the impact of the Right to Rent scheme, a court has heard.
The Government’s controversial scheme, which requires landlords to conduct immigration checks on potential tenants, has been challenged in the High Court.
Under Right to Rent, which was introduced in 2016, landlords face 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 is living in their property.
The judicial review case – brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) – which concluded yesterday (Wednesday 19th December 2018), argues that the scheme puts tenants who have a legal right to be in the UK at risk of homelessness and destitution.
The barrister representing the JCWI, Philippa Kaufman QC, told the High Court that the scheme encourages landlords to give preference to white people with British passports, in order to reduce the risk of prosecution.
She described Right to Rent as an “onerous scheme” that presents “huge risks and burdens” for landlords, adding: “If someone is a British citizen, they know they are safe.”
She continued: “The evidence shows they prefer not just a British national, but a British national with a passport to show, because then they can be sure there is no doubt.
“BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] British citizens are treated less favourably when they don’t have a passport than white British citizens. Where they do not have a passport, you then resort to proxies – do they appear British? – i.e. skin colour, name, accent, and so forth.”
The case arrives as new research from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) shows that 44% of private landlords are now less likely to let to those without a British passport, compared to 42% last year.
Chai Patel, the Legal Policy Director for the JCWI, has accused the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, of “ignoring” a report earlier this year by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, which concluded that the Right to Rent scheme 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”.
They added: “This is extraordinarily intrusive red tape that conscripts landlords as border officials on pain of imprisonment, and Sajid Javid won’t even check that it’s working as planned.”