The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is supporting a judicial review of government immigration policy.
Under the government’s new right to rent scheme landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants. This could lead to prosecution if they know, or have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK
The RLA is supporting a Judicial Review of the policy being sought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). The JCWI argues that the policy discriminates against foreign nationals. The RLA is also supporting a similar case brought by the Camden Community Law Centre.
The threat of criminal sanctions has led to some landlords becoming reluctant to rent to non-UK nationals. Issues such as forged documents are a key concern.
Research conducted by the JCWI has found that the scheme has made 51 per cent of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals.
The Home Office has refused to publish a database of what all acceptable forms of identification for the scheme look like on the basis that there are too many countries in the world.
The JCWI research found that 485 of landlords were less likely to rent to someone who does not possess a British passport as a result of the scheme because of the threat of criminal sanctions. 17 per cent of the UK population do not own a passport and face increased discrimination because of this.
RLA Policy Director, David Smith, said: ‘When this policy was first discussed we warned the Government of the unintended consequences of the Right to Rent scheme. How can a landlord be expected to know what every passport in every country is supposed to look like? For the overwhelming majority of landlords it makes no commercial sense to limit their access to a large proportion of the prospective tenant market. It is the fear of criminal sanctions for getting it wrong which is causing many simply to want to play it safe. Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies – it is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.’