Two separate legal challenges have been launched against the Government's 'right to rent' policy.
The scheme, which requires landlords to check the immigration status of new tenants, has left many landlords reluctant to rent to those without a UK passport. Two cases have now been taken to court that could end up reversing the policy.
The first involves a woman who is facing eviction after her landlord was notified that she did not have consent to be in the UK, after the Home Office lost her passport when she applied to extend her visa. Her lawyers are arguing that the policy is not compatible with the Human Rights Act.
The second case is being brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). The group argues that the scheme is “disproportionate and discriminatory”.
“The right to rent policy is designed to encourage irregular migrants to leave the country by making them homeless,” Chai Patel, legal policy director at JCWI told Politics.co.uk. Patel continued: “The problem with it, apart from the inhumanity of that proposition, is that there's no evidence it works. The Home Office hasn't shown that the scheme will do anything to increase voluntary departures, which have actually reduced since the scheme came into force. Worse, the scheme causes discrimination against foreign nationals even if they have immigration status. It also causes discrimination against British citizens who don't have passports. Faced with our evidence, the Home Office has buried its head in the sand and refuses to review the scheme before forcing it onto Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have no choice now but to challenge this pernicious and ineffective policy through the courts.”
The legal bids to overturn the Right to Rent policy has been backed by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). RLA policy director, David Smith, said: “When this policy was first discussed we warned the Government of the unintended consequences of the Right to Rent scheme. How can a landlord be expected to know what every passport in every country is supposed to look like?”
It is the fear of criminal sanctions for getting it wrong which is causing many simply to want to play it safe. Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”