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Government faces High Court challenge over Right to Rent scheme

The High Court has given the go-ahead for a legal review to be launched into the government’s Right to Rent policy.

The controversial Right to Rent scheme requiring landlords to check the immigration status of new tenants is fuelling discrimination and was earlier this week described by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) as ‘creating a hostile environment’.

Right to Rent, rolled out across England last year, requires landlords to establish whether tenants have a right to be in the country by taking copies of documents such as passports or identity cards.


But it has been suggested by some campaigners that the initiative has left British citizens without passports as well as foreigners at a disadvantage in the private rental market, which is why a cross-party group of MPs, landlords and immigration lawyers are challenging the immigration policy in the High Court.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which sought consent from the High Court to challenge the Right to Rent scheme, supported by the RLA, has long criticised the policy because it believes that it is having a negative impact on many would-be and vulnerable tenants. This is partly due to the fact that the policy encourages what the JCWI described as ‘systematic discrimination’ against ethnic minorities and people without British passports.

Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the JCWI, told the press that he welcomed the court’s decision to grant the application yesterday.

He said: “Like many other aspects of the hostile environment, the Right to Rent creates real risks of discrimination.”

“The chief inspector of borders, the Residential Landlords Association and JCWI have all provided the government with evidence of the need for a review.”

The JCWI is seeking to crowdfund the challenge, having so far raised about £2,400 of the £15,000 target.

Commenting on the decision of the High Court to allow for a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy, RLA policy director David Smith said: “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.

“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.”

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