“Right to Rent” Checks Breach Human Rights

The High Court has ruled that the “right to rent” scheme under the Immigration Act 2014 is discriminatory and breach human rights laws.

 

The scheme requires residential landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and other occupiers to ascertain whether they have a right to rent within the UK. The scheme forms part of the government’s “hostile environment” policy, which seeks to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the UK. So far, the scheme only applies in England and is only required for residential tenancy agreements entered into on or after 1 February 2016.

Failure by a landlord to carry out a “right to rent” check on prospective tenants, such as seeing their passport or visa, can carry a fine of up to £3,000 if it is subsequently found that the tenant does not have the right to rent in this country.

The High Court has held that the scheme causes discrimination by landlords, as some categories of people who were entitled to rent were finding it harder to find a home within the UK. Evidence showed that the scheme was causing landlords to discriminate against potential tenants because of their both their nationality and ethnicity.

It was also found that if the Home Office decides to commence the “right to rent” scheme in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales without first evaluating its efficacy and discriminatory impact, it would breach the Equality Act 2010.

Despite the decision, residential landlords in England will still need to comply with the “right to rent” scheme, until the government makes amendments to the Immigration Act 2014. Also, it remains to be seen whether the Home Office will appeal against the decision.

For further guidance and advice, please do not hesitate our Landlord and Tenant team, headed by Partner Fiona Squire, on 01803 403403 or [email protected].

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