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Landlords challenge Right to Rent policy

Tuesday 06 February 2018

A legal bid to overturn the Government’s 'controversial and unwelcome' Right to Rent immigration policy has received backing from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

Under the current rules landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants and face prosecution if they know, or have 'reasonable cause to believe', that their property is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK.

The RLA is supporting the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) which is calling for a Judicial Review, on the basis the policy discriminates against foreign nationals, as well as a similar case being brought by the Camden Community Law Centre.

RLA policy director, David Smith, said: “When this policy was first discussed we warned the Government of the unintended consequences of the Right to Rent scheme.

"How can a landlord be expected to know what every passport in every country is supposed to look like?

“For the overwhelming majority of landlords it makes no commercial sense to limit their access to a large proportion of the prospective tenant market.

“It is the fear of criminal sanctions for getting it wrong which is causing many simply to want to play it safe.

“Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”

Research by the RLA found 47 per cent of landlords are less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals from outside the EU, and 42 per cent were less likely to rent to someone without a British passport because of possible criminal sanctions - posing serious difficulties for the 17 per cent of UK residents who do not have a passport.

The Home Office has refused to publish a database of what all acceptable forms of identification for the scheme look like, arguing that there are simply too many from countries around the world.

A recent BBC investigation found that criminal gangs are helping undocumented immigrants to flout the law by selling them fake identity documents.

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