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Right to Rent – Judicial Review in sight

Business

The High Court has granted permission to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) for a judicial review of the Government’s Right to Rent legislation.
Under the terms of this legislation, landlords are required to check that tenants have the right to reside in the UK during the period of the tenancy.  JCWI claim that this forces landlords to take on “border control” type responsibility and that there is a risk of serious discrimination against immigrants who do not hold a British passport.
Chief executive of the JCWI, Satbir Singh, welcoming the court’s decision said: “Like many other aspects of the hostile environment, the Right to Rent creates real risks of discrimination.”
“The chief inspector of borders, the Residential Landlords Association and JCWI have all provided the government with evidence of the need for a review.”
Research carried out by the JCWI identified that 51% of landlords responding were not less likely to rent to non-EU nationals and 42% were less likely to rent to those not holding a UK passport.
The criminal penalties in place for landlords who fail to carry out appropriate Right to Rent checks are a cause of considerable concern for private landlords and their agents so it is not a surprise that landlords are erring on the side of caution and taking steps to rent only to those tenants whose Right to Rent is easier to prove.
David Smith, RLA policy director, said: “Landlords will welcome the High Court decision to allow a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy which has put them in the impossible position of acting as untrained Border Police trying to ascertain who does and who does not have the right to be in the country.
“This has created difficulties for many legitimate tenants as landlords are forced to play safe and only rent to those with a UK passport. The announcement is an important step towards overturning a policy which the government’s own inspectorate had described as having yet to demonstrate its worth.”
Permission to bring a Judicial Review is far from overturning the current Right to Rent obligations on landlords but it is an interesting step forward in a debate that affects all landlords and crosses into many governmental departments.

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