Right to Rent scheme is
breach of human rights,
says High Court
4 March 2019
A High Court judge has ruled that the ‘Right to Rent’ Scheme, which compels landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, is a breach of human rights.
The honourable Mr Justice Martin Spencer said on Friday that it would be illegal to launch the scheme in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without reviewing it further. Its ‘little or no effect’ on controlling immigration was ‘significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect’.
The policy was introduced in 2016 in England as part of the ‘hostile environment’ to deter illegal immigrants from settling in the UK. If a landlord failed to check the immigration status, they were committing a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment or a fine.
As a result, some landlords were being wrongly prejudiced against potential tenants based on their nationality and ethnicity, even if they were legally resident. Those without a British passport for instance, or limited time to remain in the UK, would be less likely to be offered tenancy.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants are longstanding critics of the scheme. They brought the challenge to court, claiming that it was ‘race discrimination against those who are perfectly entitled to rent”.
The Home Office responded by saying it was ‘disappointed’.