The government’s ‘right to rent’ policy has seen two separate legal challenges launched against it, following claims that the legislation forces landlords to ‘act as border guards’.
Following the introduction of the rules in February 2016, landlords have been forced by the Home Office to check if a potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK before letting a home to them.
However, the controversial policy has seen several challenges, the latest of these involving a woman who is facing eviction after her landlord was informed that she did t have permission to be in the UK. The woman in question had entered the country as a student, but the Home Office lost her passport when she applied to extend her visa. Following this, she has been unable to obtain a new passport from her country of birth and has been living in limbo. She is currently applying to remain in the UK as a stateless person.
The woman’s lawyers are arguing that the ‘right to rent’ policy is not compatible with the Human Rights Act.
Derek Bernardi of the Camden Community Law Centre, who is acting on behalf of the woman, says: ‘The government says that the right to rent policy will crack down on rogue landlords but this case is the perfect example of how it impacts vulnerable people.’
The second case is being brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) after it conducted research which found that the policy lead to increased discrimination. Fifty one per cent of landlords surveyed said that ‘right to rent’ means that they are less likely to let a property to foreign nationals.
Legal policy director at JCWI, Chai Patel, said: ‘The right to rent policy is designed to encourage irregular migrants to leave the country by making them homeless. The problem with it, apart from the inhumanity of that proposition, is that there’s no evidence it works. The Home Office hasn’t shown that the scheme will do anything to increase voluntary departures, which have actually reduced since the scheme came into force. Worse, the scheme causes discrimination against foreign nationals even if they have immigration status. It also causes discrimination against British citizens who don’t have passports. Faced with our evidence, the Home Office has buried its head in the sand and refuses to review the scheme before forcing it onto Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have no choice now but to challenge this pernicious and ineffective policy through the courts.’
The Home Office said it would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing legal challenges.