A group of organisations is calling on those vying to be the new Tory leader to get rid of the Right to Rent scheme, which sees landlords carry out immigration status checks or face a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Last week, writing for Mortgage Strategy, Conor Kavanagh a political correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service, wrote that many landlords are not renting to migrants or descendants of migrants to “avoid the workload and potential penalties of housing illegal immigrants.”
The scheme’s critics that make up the collation, which comprises the Residential Landlords Association, The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, and The3million, a non-profit support network for UK-based EU citizens, agree that the legislation is a cause of discrimination.
The chief inspector of borders and immigration has said that the scheme, which was introduced by Theresa May when home secretary in 2016, is “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance.”
RLA policy director David Smith brands the scheme “a failure,” adding that “no one has been prosecuted under the scheme.” However, it has created “a great deal of anxiety for landlords who do not want to go to prison for getting it wrong,” he says.
Smith concludes: “Landlords should not be used to cover for the failings in the UK Border Agencies.”
Research conducted by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants outlines that 51 per cent of landlords are less likely to rent to non-British tenants, and 48 per cent are less likely to rent to those who cannot provide a British passport.
In addition, 20 per cent of the 50,000 individuals in the survey said they would not rent to European Economic Area nationals, and over 50 per cent voiced reluctance to rent to those on time-restricted visas.
The3million’s chief executive Nicolas Hatton calls for the government to scrap the scheme and “end the discrimination.”
Hatton adds: “Two-thirds of EU citizens in the UK live in private rented housing and will be affected if this failed scheme continues.
“We are already seeing that landlords are less likely to rent to anyone without a British passport, and uncertainty about Brexit added to the hostile environment will only increase the discrimination EU citizens are facing.”
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants legal policy director Chai Patel also believes that the scheme should be removed.
He says: “The Home Office is now arguing in its appeal that it is justified in causing racial discrimination against British ethnic minority families struggling to find a home.
“It is arguing that black and brown British people’s dignity, humanity, and rights can be tossed aside to pursue Theresa May’s hostile environment.
“That cannot be acceptable in modern Britain.”
North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf says: “I believe that it is a real issue. Government have said they will review the scheme.
“The most important thing is the enforcement, or the lack of it. It is important to have good law and regulation.
“Landlords are currently having to act as border police.”
Lentune Mortgage Consultancy managing director Stuart Gregory adds: “Landlords should not be expected to cover the failures of the UK Border Agency or the government’s policies on immigration.
“If more Landlords feel it is simpler only to offer housing to those with a British passport, it is setting a dangerous precedent and could increase discrimination.”