The government is facing a High Court challenge this week to stop it forcing buy-to-let landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants after claims that they are causing serious discrimination.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) says the Right to Rent scheme, which requires landlords in England to check the immigration status of their tenants, is having a negative impact on many would-be and vulnerable tenants, partly because it encourages “systematic discrimination” against ethnic minorities and people without British passports.
Excessive checks and lack of monitoring, in accordance with the Right to Rent scheme, has left many landlords reluctant to rent to those without a UK passport.
Consequently, there have been a number of cases of people wrongly being denied rental accommodation, and that is why a judicial review application hearing, which will take place on Wednesday, is expected to receive backing from a number of charities, human rights groups, MPs and peers.
The case has been brought by the JCWI, which claims that the policy is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and must therefore be reviewed before it is rolled out any further.
Phillippa Kaufmann QC, who is representing JCWI, said: “Landlords are incentivised by the very nature of the scheme to go down the path of least resistance.
“If they have someone who comes to them with a British passport, they know they are at no risk of criminal liability.
She added: “JCWI argues that the government is not in any position to justify this policy because it has not gathered any evidence that its ‘hostile environment’ is having any effect – that is, the desired effect of prompting illegal migrants to leave, rather than going underground to be exploited by rogue landlords.
“It can’t show that it is achieving that end, and it can’t show it has given any consideration of the unintended impact it is having.”