Government Faces High Court Challenge Over Right to Rent

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The government is due to face a high court challenge this week over the Right to Rent policy.

The high court challenge comes from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which claims that the policy is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and must be reviewed before it is rolled out any further.

Research carried out by the JCWI has revealed that 51 per cent of landlords said that they were now less likely to consider renting to non-EU nationals, while 42 per cent were now less likely to rent to those without a UK passport.

When landlords were asked to consider the possible consequences of failing to fulfil the Right to Rent criteria, the number who were less likely to rent to somebody without a British passport rose to 48 per cent.

The findings reflected a recent survey of 2,800 landlords by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) which found that 43 per cent were less likely to rent to anyone without a UK passport, and 46 per cent less likely to rent to a foreign national from outside the EU.

The Right to Rent policy was particularly highlighted recently during the Windrush scandal, which saw people with full UK rights unable to prove their status and therefore prevented from renting, working, or claiming benefits.

Phillippa Kaufmann QC, representing JCWI in the high court challenge, commented: ‘Landlords are incentivised by the very nature of the scheme to go down the path of least resistance. If they have someone who comes to them with a British passport, they know they are at no risk of criminal liability.’

She continued: ‘JCWI argues that the government is not in any position to justify this policy because it has not gathered any evidence that its ‘hostile environment’ is having any effect – that is, the desired effect of prompting illegal migrants to leave, rather than going underground to be exploited by rogue landlords.

The Home Office would not comment on the matter. A spokesperson said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’

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