Private landlords will have a major say in a court case considering the future of the government’s Right to Rent scheme.
The Home Office recently announced that it plans to reassess its Right to Rent scheme after the High Court ruled in March that the legislation is discriminatory and breaches human rights laws.
The Right to Rent scheme, introduced in England in 2016 following an initial pilot scheme in the West Midlands, requires landlords to check the immigration status of tenants.
The Home Office wants to roll the scheme out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but judges said that this will now not be possible without further evaluation, as the evidence “strongly showed” that the existing policy is causing landlords to discriminate against potential tenants because of their nationality and ethnicity.
The challenge was brought by the JCWI, which has long maintained that the policy could lead to indirect discrimination, with landlords forced to act as what it describes as ‘border police’.
However, the government has now decided to appeal against a damning criticism by the High Court earlier this year that the Right to Rent breaches human rights law because it causes racial discrimination that otherwise would not happen.
Following a Judicial Review of the policy, the presiding judge concluded that discrimination by landlords was taking place “because of the Scheme.” In his judgment he said that discrimination by landlords was “logical and wholly predictable” when faced with potential sanctions and penalties for getting things wrong.
The Court of Appeal yesterday agreed that the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) will be able to make a written and oral submission to the case ensuring that the views of landlords are to be at the centre of the case.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, commented: “The Right to Rent has been a failure. No one has been prosecuted under the scheme but it has created a great deal of anxiety for landlords who do not want to go to prison for getting it wrong.
“We are disappointed that the government has chosen to appeal against what was a clear and damning verdict by the High Court. However, we will ensure that the views of landlords are well represented as we send a message that they should not be used to cover for the failings in the UK border agencies.”
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