The Government is now facing a legal challenge over the controversial Right-to-Rent scheme, which permits buy-to-let landlords to check the immigration status of would-be tenants.
Introduced in February 2016 across England, while Prime Minister Theresa May was Home Secretary, the scheme has seen landlords forced to check legal documents of possible renters before allowing them to rent their property. This is to ensure their tenants are legally allowed to rent in the UK.
However, these checks have less foreign nationals (and Britons) without a passport struggling to rent, according to a new survey.
This report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) claims that many would-be renters from ethnic minorities are being discriminated against in the rental market. This, the investigation claims, is a direct result of the Right-to-Rent scheme, designed to clamp down on regular immigration.
51% of landlords questioned said that the scheme would make them less likely to think about letting to foreign nationals. 42% of landlords stated they were less likely to rent to someone without a UK passport.
A real cause for concern was highlighted through an enquiry from a British Black Minority Ethnic tenant without a passport. This tenant was turned down by 58% of landlords during a mystery shopping exercise, following the introduction of the Right-to-Rent scheme.
Existing legislation states that landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s immigration status will face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant, with a maximum five years behind bars.
Yesterday, the JCWI wrote to the Home Office in order to call for a stop to the rollout of the scheme and for a reassessment of its effects.
Saira Grant, chief executive of the JCWI, stated: ‘In the face of clear evidence of discrimination under Right to Rent, the government must show it is not acting illegally before it presses ahead with a rollout to the rest of the UK.’
‘This is a scheme that not only discriminates against BME Britons, foreign nationals and British nationals without passports- it imposes costs on landlords, agents and tenants too. In the absence of any clear plan to monitor its effects the Government must carry out a thorough review-until then, any extension to other parts of the UK would be premature, dangerous and potentially illegal,’ he added.