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Home Office says landlords do not ‘systematically discriminate’ against tenants

The government has published the findings of a review into the operation of Right To Rent by private landlords and letting agents.

The Right to Rent scheme requires landlords of privately rented accommodation to conduct checks on all new tenants to establish if they have a legal right to be in the UK and therefore have the right to rent. 

There was an assessment of how it worked early on, back in 2014, but a more recent one has been undertaken between September 2019 and October 2021 - the results of this later assessment have just been published, having been delayed by the pandemic.


The Home Office, which commissioned the survey, used two methods to assess - firstly through a mystery shopping exercise whereby mystery shoppers approached private landlords and letting agents to enquire about potential rental properties; and secondly through quantitative and qualitative research with private landlords investigating awareness and engagement with the Right to Rent scheme.

The central research question was whether the Right to Rent scheme leads to unlawful race discrimination. 

A statement from the Home Office says: “The results show some clear examples of discriminatory attitudes but there was insufficient evidence to claim any systematic unlawful discrimination as a result of the scheme.”

It continues: “Most of the interactions with landlords and letting agents reported by the mystery shoppers were helpful (67 per cent, 1,326 out of 1,976) and friendly (65 per cent, 1,285 out of 1,976), and Right to Rent requirements were dealt with in a matter-of-fact way, with some landlords not mentioning the checks at all at this stage of the rental process. 

“The research did not find much evidence of pushback from landlords against the scheme, perhaps because requesting documentation has always been an element of the rental transaction. Landlords routinely ask for confirmation of employment, bank details and references from previous landlords. Seen in this light, the additional paperwork involved in Right to Rent checks may not add materially to the volume of pre-tenancy work.”

The exercise found that 14 per cent (42 out of 300) of landlords said that they would not rent to a UK national without a passport. 

In response to this the Home Office says: “The Right to Rent scheme could thus have the potential to disadvantage UK citizens without passports who are seeking to rent a home. However, putting this into context, landlords also reported not wishing to rent property to Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance recipients at a much higher level (38 per cent, 114 out of 300).”

On the other hand, several mystery shoppers were told that a driver’s licence would suffice as proof of having the right to rent despite this being insufficient as a standalone piece of evidence. 

The government says such confusion about the rules points to the importance of good quality information, delivered to as many private landlords and agents as possible. It acknowledges that although awareness of the scheme is improving there are still obvious gaps in understanding, which could be addressed through an effective communication strategy.

You can see the full results of the assessment here.

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    The share code system is brilliant. Much easier to do the Right to Rent checks now that exists. It also firmly puts the decision back in the hands of officials who are trained in these matters.

    The acceptable permutation of documents as alternatives to a UK passport for a UK national is hard to find in the Right to Rent guide (especially if trying to find it on a smartphone mid viewing). I know it exists and I know there are some very strange alternatives listed but it's something I've only had to use a couple of times as almost everyone has a passport.

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    Whenever we have a property become available to rent these days we always have a number of applicants, so we chose the tenant who best passes all the checks, affordability etc, so we must be ''discriminating'' against the unlucky applicants, for example I will show round an out of work single mum, she can apply, but she will automatically fail the affordability check

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    As Andrew says, there will always be an element of discrimination…. As it should be ! I want the very best tenants, so I WILL discriminate against those on a low income, is that not just obvious?

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    Selection and discrimination are the two sides of the same coin.

    Surely the best candidate should always be chosen for everything thus driving up quality everywhere?

    Public sector performance shows what happens when proper selection procedure isn't adopted.

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    The public sector simply do not perform. I don't need any advice, guidance or instruction from them thank you.



    A diabolical performance is still a performance, albeit not one we want or need.

    About the only part of the public sector that performs remotely well is the NHS. Imagine if we didn't discriminate and select the best when we were choosing doctors?

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    Jo. I didn’t find that at all I ended up in a right muddle.
    The share Code they give makes no connection to who its from, no name or date of birth on it so how are you supposed to know who gave it to to.
    I had 6 copies of Passports & 6 sheets of paper with Share Codes, now match them up not a hope until after you done the Check, but you can’t do the Check without having the information off the Passport but you can’t match the Passport to the Share code there is no connection.
    It ok if you are only dealing with one or two at a time, or they were with you prior to 2016 it doesn’t apply.


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