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 Landlords “facilitating race discrimination” claims law firm

A law firm says landlords being obliged to conduct checks on the immigration status of potential tenants is encouraging and even facilitating racial discrimination.

Bates Wells says that the launch of the Home Office’s new Right To rent online service tomorrow is likely to increase publicity around these checks and lead to more landlords screening out foreign applicants or those with foreign-sounding names, without going through the proper checking process.

Landlords who fail to undertake these immigration status checks can be fined £1,000 for a first offence and £3,000 for a further offence. 


Chetal Patel, a partner in Bates Wells’ immigration practice, says: “The new push the Home Office is putting behind these checks could give rise to even greater discrimination on the basis of race and nationality.

“Individuals who have non-English sounding names, may find themselves ignored by landlords and could struggle to find a place to live, even if they have every right to be living and working in the UK.”

“Streamlining and digitising processes doesn’t necessarily make it any easier, as not all prospective tenants or tenants will have a UK immigration status that can be checked online.”

Patel says that placing the burden of checking on “ordinary people like buy to let investors to undertake the policing of immigration” is a poor policy decision, and comes on the heels of the government being criticised for its Hostile Environment Policy and the Windrush scandal.

There has been widespread criticism from landlords and agents, as well as external organisations, for the government’s controversial Right To Rent policies.


Recently the Association of Residential Letting Agents wrote to the government over the burden of work associated with Right To Rent.

Temporary changes to Right To Rent, instigated in March by the Home Office in the light of the pandemic, were thought to be short-lived; however they have now been in place for eight months and are ongoing.

The government now says that within eight weeks of the temporary Right to Rent measures being lifted - at an unspecified date when the virus subsides - agents “will also need to carry out full retrospective checks on tenants who started their tenancy during this period.”

In a letter to MP Kevin Foster - the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, based at the Home Office - ARLA warns the sheer scale of this work is impossible to be undertaken by agents within the government’s timescale.

The association points out that in the near future agents will also have to adopt new digital checks for overseas applicants while also accommodating full in person checks including those for overseas nationals who elect to use other forms of identity documents. 

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    I really don't see what the major issue is. Landlords and letting agents do checks on prospective tenants anyway. So just ask the tenant to bring along their passport/visa/residence permit, read it, take a copy, - and that's it. No big deal. How long does that take? And of course any landlord choosing to discriminate on the basis of race should have the full weight on the law on them. Entrapment can expose such landlords.


    My big annoyance about this scheme is people taking a copy of my passport. Most LL & small agencies have little understanding of data protection (of course they may say/think they do) and no policies regarding destruction of documents. As individuals we are responsible for keeping our identity safe but the government then mandates that we give our most sensitive documents to all and sundry. Having rented a lot (9 places in 11 years), this is one of the most frustrating parts of the process. To 'satisfy' themselves of identity, a LL only actually needs to have sight of a passport/residence doc, but being terrified of fines, everyone wants to retain 'proof'. If requested, I supply a redacted copy. They can see the original but not take copies. As both a tenant and LL I see both sides.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    But the point ARLA are making is that ANY extra checking is Time ( and Time = Money, - especially when Govt have also brought in a Ban on Tenant Fee's )

    The extra measure as I understand ARLA [ not being their spokesperson ] is that After the pandemic and the ending of the dispensation to check R2R electronically, the process is expected to be completed AGAIN, physically within a defined timeframe of 8 weeks. !

    In my view, ARLA and landlords are quite right to call the Govt out on this.
    ( Are you a Landlord David ? )


    Mr Wirth a landlord.... LOL !


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