The High Court has ruled today that the government’s controversial Right to Rent scheme breaches human rights law.
Right to Rent was introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, as a key strand of the Government’s increasingly discredited ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants. No one wants to find they are renting their property to someone who is living in the UK illegally. But the problem with the Right to Rent scheme is that it puts landlords, not the Home Office, in the driving seat. Landlords are personally responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants themselves, which is regarded as completely inappropriate by landlord organisations because they could face prosecution if they get it wrong and are found to be renting to someone who has no right to UK residency.
Last year the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) brought a case against the government, backed by The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and Liberty, claiming the policy is incompatible with human rights law because it drives discrimination against non-UK nationals who might be in the country legitimately and British ethnic minorities.
Today, the JCWI got the verdict it was hoping for. The High Court has ruled that the scheme does breach the European Convention on Human Rights and that discrimination by landlords is taking place “because of the Scheme.” The judge, Mr Justice Martin Spencer said that the safeguards used by the Government to avoid discrimination, namely online guidance, telephone advice and codes of conduct and practice, have proved ineffective. He concluded that “the Government’s own evaluation failed to consider discrimination on grounds of nationality at all, only on grounds of ethnicity.”
The RLA is now calling on the government to accept the decision, scrap the Right to Rent, and come up with a better way to sensibly manage migration, “without having to rely on untrained landlords to do the job of the Home Office.”