The government’s flagship Right to Rent immigration policy is to be tested in the courts after the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) revealed over the weekend that it is to apply for a Judicial Review. A decision on whether it can go ahead is to be heard on Wednesday.
In addition to its court action, the charity also claims that a report issued recently by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration warned that the Right to Rent scheme was “not working”.
JCWI will argue that Right to Rent encourages “systematic discrimination” against ethnic minorities and people without British passports.
The charity’s move against Right to Rent coincides with figures from the Home Office, obtained recently by the Press Association, that the number of landlords being fined for Right to Rent breaches has fallen off from a total of nearly 80 every three months to nearly 40 between January and March this year.
Some 465 landlords so far have been fined £265,000 by the Home Office since the scheme began in 2016, or on average £654 per landlord.
The JCWI campaign to challenge Right to Rent comes after the recent Windrush scandal, during which it has been revealed how many people of Jamaican origin had been denied rental accommodation despite having permanent leave to live and work in the UK.
“The problem with this scheme isn’t that individual landlords are necessarily racist, it’s that the government has put in a place a scheme that incentivises systemic discrimination against certain groups,” says JCWI Legal Policy Director Chai Patel (pictured).
“That contravenes the Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits that kind of discrimination and prohibits the government from putting in place schemes that encourage it.”
This latest move to challenge Right to Rent comes just ten months after the Residential Landlords Association said it was “dangerous, divisive and must be scrapped”.
“The Windrush scandal has shown that even trained immigration officers can make serious mistakes. This highlights how inappropriate it is to demand that untrained landlords become enforcers of government immigration policy,” says RLA Director of Policy David Smith (pictured, right).
“Those who cannot easily prove their right to rent with documents landlords are clearly familiar with are finding it increasingly difficult to access the homes they need.
“In reality the Right to Rent is creating a hostile environment for those who need, and are legally entitled to, housing in the UK but cannot easily prove it. This is causing needless tension and concern for tenants and landlord.”