‘Right to Rent’ Creator James Brokenshire Named Housing Secretary

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Creator of the controversial ‘Right to Rent’ policy, James Brokenshire, has been named new Secretary of State for Housing.

James Brokenshire was announced on Monday as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government after previous office-holder Sajid Javid was made Home Secretary following Amber Rudd’s resignation over the Windrush scandal.

James Brokenshire acted as immigration minister whilst Theresa May was in charge of the Home Office. He introduced the controversial ‘Right to Rent’ checks which rendered landlords responsible for ensuring that their tenants had the right to remain in the UK. The failure of landlords to properly check immigration status could land them with a £3,000 fine, placing significant responsibility upon them which many landlords were unhappy with.

Right to Rent formed part of the Government’s tactic to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants. However, the policy received significant backlash from landlord groups, who claimed that it was unfair to make landlords act as border guards. The policy also reportedly led to discrimination based on ethnicity.

At the time, Brokenshire spoke out about the policy, saying: ‘We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law. The right to rent checks will be quick and simple, but will make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here. They will also act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out overcrowded and unsafe accommodation.’

Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and the pressure group, Generation Rent, argued at the time that the policy ‘will drive discrimination, encouraging otherwise fair-minded landlords and agents to let to white tenants with British-sounding names, just to reduce the likelihood of additional bureaucracy from the Home Office.’

Brokenshire has also served as Northern Ireland Secretary and played a key role in the Prime Minister striking a deal with the DUP, after the Tories lost their majority in Parliament at the general election last year.

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