A High Court judge yesterday gave the green light for a Judicial Review of the government’s Right to Rent scheme which, if successful, could see it withdrawn.
Right to Rent requires agents and landlords to record and check every tenant’s passport and other identity documents before a tenancy starts, and report those who may be illegal immigrants.
During the hearing a lawyer for the The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) argued successfully that the policy was causing indirect discrimination on grounds of race and nationality and that it therefore breached the Human Rights Act. Also, last month a government minister in the House of Lords admitted that he had no idea how many landlords were being impacted by the scheme.
A full hearing willl now follow, and if the JCWI’s legal team can persuade it that the Right to Rent regulations are a ‘common error’ then the government could be forced to withdraw the measure, which have been criticised by landlords and proved unpopular among agents.
“Landlords will welcome the High Court decision to allow a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy which has put them in the impossible position of acting as untrained Border Police trying to ascertain who does and who does not have the right to be in the country,” says David Smith (pictured), Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
“This has created difficulties for many legitimate tenants as landlords are forced to play safe and only rent to those with a UK passport.”
The announcement is an important step towards overturning a policy which the government’s own inspectorate had described as having yet to demonstrate its worth.”
RLA research recently discovered that 42% of landlords are now less likely to rent to someone without a UK passport. This, it says, is becoming a significant prolbem for the 17% of UK citizens who do not have a passport.
The decision will create concern high up in government; Right to Rent was one of Theresa May’s ideas within the 2014 Immigration Act.
JCWI is not alone in its efforts. A cross-party group of 20 MPs wrote to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday urging him to review Right to Rent.