High Court rules Right to Rent scheme in breach of human rights

The High Court has ruled that the government’s Right to Rent scheme violates human rights.

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in England in 2016 by Theresa May when she served as home secretary, and states that landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants.

A case brought forward by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants claimed that Right to Rent has been leading to discrimination against ethnic minorities and is incompatible with human rights,

Research collected by the Residential Landlords Association shows that 44 per cent of private landlords are less likely to rent to those without a British passport in fear of getting non-UK nationals immigration status’ wrong.

In addition, the data shows that 53 per cent of landlords were less likely to rent to those with limited time to remain in the UK and 20 per cent said they were less likely to consider letting a property to EU or EEA nationals.

Judge Justice Martin Spencer ruled that the scheme did indeed breach the European Convention on Human Rights on the basis that it led to discrimination against non-UK nationals.

As part of his verdict, Spencer said that, “[the scheme] does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not.”

Borders and Immigration independent chief inspector David Bolt says: The Right to Rent scheme has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance” and that the Home Office was “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders.”

Residential Landlords Association policy manager John Stewart adds: “Today’s ruling is a damning critique of a flagship government policy. We have warned all along that turning landlords into untrained and unwilling border police would lead to the exact form of discrimination the court has found.

“We call on the government to accept the decision, scrap the Right to Rent, and consider what else can be done to sensibly manage migration, without having to rely on untrained landlords to do the job of the Home Office.”

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants legal policy director Chai Patel says: “There is no place for racism in the UK housing market.

“Now that the High Court has confirmed that Theresa May’s policy actively causes discrimination, parliament must act immediately to scrap it.

“But we all know that this sort of discrimination, caused by making private individuals into border guards, affects almost every aspect of public life – it has crept into our banks, hospitals, and schools.”

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