What the New Prime Minister Must Do

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We should soon know who our new Prime Minister will be, and they need to act quickly to sort out the Right to Rent mess they inherit.

I don’t like to ‘blow my own trumpet’, but since the Right to Rent was first mooted following the Immigration Bill of 2015 and its’ stated intention of creating a hostile environment for those who enter the country illegally, I have said time and again that this was a policy that would lead to discrimination against the most vulnerable. 

I did not mean just those coming into this country now, fleeing persecution and poverty, but those who had lived here for years, who had made homes, but due to poverty did not have the necessary ID for the Right to Rent checks. That landlords in fear of the penalties would decide not to take the risk and keep their properties for those they were sure had a legal right to rent. 

I made this point immediately after it was introduced on a local radio programme, to be castigated by listeners as a Do-Gooder’, unaware of the impact of the newcomers to our ‘Green and pleasant land’. As the people I seek to do-good with are generally landlords, make your own judgement.

Of course, if there are thousands living illegally, becoming part of a black economy, working cash in hand and living in intolerable conditions because they have no right to something better, it is right that legislation should be introduced, but the new Prime Minister needs to find another way. 

Did the pilot expose this situation? The pilot only discovered 109 living illegally. Without details, it is difficult to know whether these same 109 would have been discovered without the threats of prosecution that the Right to Rent brought, as some of the poorest accommodations are inhabited by the illegal occupiers – enforcement teams must have been aware of at least some of the places that needed checks on the tenants.

Finally, following a Judicial Review brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), a Judge has ruled that discrimination is taking place ‘because of the scheme’. On 1st March 2019, the High Court of Justice ruled it was incompatible with Human Rights. This should hopefully force the new Prime Minister to come up with a new plan.

Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director of JCWI stated: ‘The Home Office is now arguing in its’ appeal that it is justified in causing racial discrimination against British ethnic minority families struggling to find a home. It is arguing that black and brown British people’s dignity, humanity, and rights can be tossed aside to pursue Theresa May’s Hostile Environment.’  

A variety of people, Human Rights Campaigners, those who support Immigrants and private landlords are all calling for this to be abolished and making appeals to the contenders for Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, to end this dangerous and divisive legislation. So far, Mr. Hunt is the first to throw his hat in the ring that he will take action. We’ll wait and see if Mr. Johnson does the same.

I am glad that good sense is being seen, for the landlords who don’t want to discriminate and feel sympathy for the situations that the immigrants come from and the difficulty sometimes for even those entering the country legally to understand the bureaucracy. I am glad for British residents who may now find it easier to take an alternative accommodation. I am glad for those fleeing poverty, persecution and fear of death.

But I am very sorry that this legislation, which has alienated landlords, which has caused unintentional discrimination should have taken 4 years to be recognised. I saw it – why didn’t our elected representatives?

New Prime minister – over to you.

For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon

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