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Government responds to High Court ruling on Right to Rent

Wednesday 06 March 2019

The Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes MP, issued a written statement on the Right to Rent Scheme yesterday (5 March).

Earlier this month the High Court ruled that the Right to Rent Scheme is leading to discrimination, is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, and that the pilot the Government ran to evaluate the Scheme was insufficient.

The case was brought by a group including the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) in December last year. The JCWI raised the case following evidence in their report Passport Please, that found 51% of landlords surveyed felt the Right to Rent Scheme made them less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals.

The Government has stated that the Scheme was trialled in the West Midlands, fully evaluated and published in October 2015. The evaluation was made up from 539 responses to online surveys, 12 focus groups, 36 one-to-one interviews and a mystery shopping exercise that involved 332 encounters. The evaluation by the Home Office found no systemic discrimination on the basis of race.

The written statement confirms that the Government disagrees with the decision of the High Court, and has been granted permission to appeal ‘all aspects of the judgement.’

Agents operating in England should be aware that in the meantime the policy remains in force. There will be no immediate change to the operation of the policy, and those letting property will still be obliged to conduct Right to Rent checks.

On behalf of the Home Office, the written statement from Caroline Nokes MP said:

“The law was and remains absolutely clear that discriminatory treatment on the part of anyone carrying out these checks is unlawful. And the Right to Rent legislation provides for a Code of Practice which sets out what landlords are expected to do.”

In response to the Minister’s written statement, the Liberal Democrats issued a press release from their Home Affairs Spokesperson, Ed Davey MP:

“What will it take for the Tories to reverse their nasty, discriminatory Hostile Environment policies?
 
The Windrush Scandal should have been enough. Last week’s High Court judgement that the ‘Right to Rent’ checks breach human rights should have been more than enough.
 
But still Tory Ministers refuse to budge. Worse, they are now wasting taxpayers’ money on a legal appeal to keep their pointless, discriminatory ‘Right to Rent’ checks.
 
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand an end to the Hostile Environment and an effective, compassionate fix to the immigration system.”

The Right to Rent Consultative Panel will be meeting again in April, where they look at how the Scheme operates, and guidance provided to letting agents and landlords.

ARLA Propertymark Lobbying