Law News

Is new Right to Rent guidance breaking UK law?

Em Morley - August 6, 2019

New Government guidance on Right to Rent would see landlords breaking the law if they followed it, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

In the document for this new guidance it says that landlords will only be required to see passports and airline tickets as proof nationals from certain countries planning on staying in the UK for up to six months are allowed to rent property. Landlords will not have to check visas.

This includes nationals from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States (known as B5JSSK nationals).

The RLA has pointed out that, whilst this guidance has no legal standing, the legally binding Code of Practice agreed by Parliament makes clear that, for such nationals, landlords must be shown clear evidence from the Home Office that the holder has the right to reside in the UK. This includes residence on a permanent basis or a time-limited period.

The RLA argues that a simple airline ticket with a passport does not meet this threshold. Without a corresponding change to the Code of Practice by Parliament, this guidance does not give any legal cover for landlords, should a tenant say longer than six months.

A court judgement has highlighted that Right to Rent breaches human rights law because it causes racial discrimination that otherwise would not happen. The RLA has written to the Home Secretary in response to this, calling for the scheme to be scrapped altogether.

Under the Right to Rent policy, private landlords face potential imprisonment of up to five years if they know or have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that the property they are letting is occupied by someone without the right to rent in the UK. Theresa May introduced this scheme during her time as Home Secretary as part of the Home Office’s hostile environment for immigrants.

David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, has commented: “This represents a new low in the sorry saga of the Right to Rent.

“Having already been ruled to be discriminatory by the High Court, the Government is now putting out guidance which could leave landlords open to prosecution.

“It reinforces once against that the Right to Rent policy needs to go and go now.”