Right to Rent Checks not working

A new report claims right to rent checks are not working, with more and more landlords afraid to rent to those without British passports. The paper by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) produced with assistance from the RLA, shows that the Government’s crackdown on illegal immigrants is creating a climate of fear amongst landlords.

The charity is calling on the government to abandon the scheme – a call echoed by the RLA which predicted such issues from the start. Landlords fear being heavily fined or even imprisoned if they fail to fully comply with the Right to Rent scheme, which requires them to check prospective tenants’ immigration status and refuse housing to those without the ‘right to rent’ in the UK.

JCWI’s research suggests that landlords who have no wish to discriminate are being forced to do so by the scheme – with people who have a full right to rent a home in the UK being disadvantaged, along with others who should be able to access housing.

It claims the scheme creates ‘structural incentives’ for landlords to discriminate unlawfully against foreigners and ethnic minorities. The findings back up previous research in which it was found that 43% of landlords said that they were less likely to rent to those who do not have a British passport because of the fear of criminal sanctions for getting it wrong.

The potential punishment that landlords face – up to five years in prison and unlimited fines –combined with the complexity of the immigration checks they must undertake, means that in some cases they are pushed into choosing tenants who feel like a ‘safer bet’ because they hold a British passport.

RLA Chairman Alan Ward said “With the threat of a jail sentence hanging over landlords if they get it wrong it is hardly surprising that they are being cautious. There are more than 400 acceptable documents proving right to rent from within the EU alone and landlords are making risk-based decisions and only accepting documents that they recognize and have confidence in.”

Saira Grant, chief executive of JCWI, added “We have been warning for some time that the right to rent scheme is failing on all fronts. It treats many groups who need housing unfairly, it is clearly discriminatory, it is putting landlords in an impossible position, and there is no evidence that it is doing anything to tackle irregular immigration.”

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