Can untrained landlords and agents tell if you have a legal right to be in the UK?
Should unpaid landlords and agents have to do the Government’s job of immigration enforcement for them?
If you look or sound ‘foreign’ why would a landlord take the risk of prison or a fine to let to you?
JCWI has begun pre-action correspondence to ensure that the Right to Rent scheme is not rolled out further without a full evaluation of discrimination under the scheme and whether or not the scheme is working.
There is mounting evidence that the scheme requiring landlords and letting agents to perform immigration checks on tenants causes discrimination against British ethnic minorities and foreign nationals with legal status in the UK.
“Two days before we were supposed to move in, we get an email from the rental agency saying ‘we’re not going to release the keys to you, you’ve lost your deposit with us, because you’re not legal in this country’ … It was awful. I was crying for that entire 24 hour period. I mean, I have a 6 year old. My child was going to be on the street. It was awful, it was absolutely awful.”
Kirby Costa Campos, Brighton.
Kirby is a US citizen married to an EU national and has a full Right to Rent in the UK.
Even worse, there is no evidence that the scheme works. Landlords and agents are forced to conduct complex checks, deal with extra red tape and face fines and imprisonment for a system that cannot even show that it is encouraging irregular migrants to leave the UK.
Our 2017 report, Passport Please, found that:
- 51% of landlords surveyed said that the scheme would make them less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals
- 42% of landlords stated that they were less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme. This rose to 48% when explicitly asked to consider the impact of the criminal sanction.
- An enquiry from a British Black Minority Ethnic (BME) tenant without a passport was ignored or turned down by 58% of landlords, in a mystery shopping exercise.
The report, backed by landlord associations, also found no evidence the scheme was achieving its stated aim of encouraging irregular migrants to leave the UK and threw into doubt its value for money.
“How can we, as landlords, ever know really if someone has got the Right to Rent? Why should we be working as immigration officers? When actually we haven’t got a clue and we certainly don’t have any information, or any training. I feel I have absolutely no way at all of telling whether or not someone has got legitimate immigration papers, how would I recognise a false passport or travel document?
With the prospect of Brexit and changes to the rights of European nationals, it is now virtually impossible to predict how future changes may impact on a person's "Right to Rent" making the legislation basically unworkable."
Clare Higson, Suffolk, member of Eastern Landlords Association
What will we do with your pledge?
We have been told that the scheme will be rolled out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and that plans for doing so are in motion. So far, officials in the Home Office have refused to provide a definite time frame for the roll out, but every indication is that it could happen at very short notice.
We are working with our legal team and with our barristers (Philippa Kaufman QC and Chris Buttler of Matrix Chambers) to make sure we are ready to challenge any such decision promptly. Once the decision is announced, it could be implemented fairly rapidly, and we must be prepared to act. We have already done the bulk of the work in gathering evidence of discrimination, but we need to do more over the coming weeks. We had funding to do that work, but that has come to an end. We need your help to keep going and to deliver the best outcome we can.
Your pledge will help us:
- Fund our work, and possibly pay for experts, to prepare the evidence we and others have gathered for a legal challenge
- Allow us to gather more evidence, if necessary, and to have additional capacity to keep working on the case as it progresses
- Protect against the risk of paying the Government’s legal costs in the event we are ordered to do so
Any money that is not used for this challenge will be used in our charitable work as an organisation fighting for a just and rational immigration policy, that does not seek to make every citizen an immigration officer, and does not encourage discrimination.
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Get in touch
If you have been affected by the Right to Rent scheme, whether as a tenant, a landlord or someone advising others, please do get in touch with our policy team.
Find out more
Right to Rent in the Media
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