High Court rules “Right to Rent” breaches human rights!

by Property 118

12:24 PM, 1st March 2019
About 11 months ago

High Court rules “Right to Rent” breaches human rights!

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High Court rules “Right to Rent” breaches human rights!

The High Court in a ruling this morning have said it will be illegal to roll the “Right to Rent” scheme in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without further evaluation!

This is the much criticised regulation requiring landlords to be HM Border Force officials and document proof that a tenant has the right to stay in the UK for the term of the tenancy and then further checks if required at a later stage.

The Judge considered discrimination against non-UK nationals and British ethnic minorities was forced on landlords, because of Right to Rent and that it breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

This successful challenge was brought by the RLA and Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

However, this does not mean at the moment that landlords in England can stop taking Right to Rent checks.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “We call on the Government to accept the court’s decision, scrap Right to Rent, and consider what else can be done to sensibly manage migration without having to rely on untrained landlords to do the job of the Home Office.”

Recent research by the RLA found that the fear of getting things wrong led to 44% of private landlords being less likely to rent to those without a British passport.

It also found 53% of landlords were less likely to rent to those with limited time to remain in the UK, whilst 20 per cent said that they were less likely to consider letting property to EU or EEA nationals.

Work by the JCWI uncovered similar findings.

Significantly, during the course of the case government research emerged, which confirmed a significant proportion of landlords were unwilling to rent to people without British passports.


Delivering his verdict in the High Court today, Mr Justice Martin Spencer ruled the scheme breached the European Convention on Human Rights on the basis that it led to discrimination against non-UK nationals with the right to rent and British ethnic minorities.

In a damming verdict, Mr Justice Spencer, referring extensively to argument and evidence provided by the RLA, concluded that discrimination by landlords was taking place “because of the Scheme.” 

He went on to conclude that “the government’s own evaluation failed to consider discrimination on grounds of nationality at all, only on grounds of ethnicity.”

The Judge continued by finding that the Right to Rent “does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not”, describing such discrimination by landlords a being “logical and wholly predicable” when faced with potential sanctions and penalties for getting things wrong.

He concluded: “The safeguards used by the government to avoid discrimination, namely online guidance, telephone advice and codes of conduct and practice, have proved ineffective. 

“In my judgment, in those circumstances, the government cannot wash its hands of responsibility for the discrimination which is taking place by asserting that such discrimination is carried out by landlords acting contrary to the intention of the Scheme.”

The ruling comes following a report published last year by David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, which concluded that the Right to Rent has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance” and that the Home Office was “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders.”

Academics at Oxford University suggest that the foreign-born population is almost three times as likely to be in the private rental sector compared to the UK-born population.

What happens now?

The RLA and the JCWI have written to the Home Secretary seeking an urgent meeting. Both organisations believe the government should scrap the scheme and go back to the drawing board.

David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “Today’s ruling is a damning critique of a flagship Government policy.

“We have warned all along that turning landlords into untrained and unwilling border police would lead to the exact form of discrimination the court has found.

“We call on the government to accept the decision, scrap the Right to Rent, and consider what else can be done to sensibly manage migration, without having to rely on untrained landlords to do the job of the Home Office.”

Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants added: “There is no place for racism in the UK housing market.

“Now that the High Court has confirmed that Theresa May’s policy actively causes discrimination, Parliament must act immediately to scrap it.

“But we all know that this sort of discrimination, caused by making private individuals into border guards, affects almost every aspect of public life – it has crept into our banks, hospitals, and schools.

“Today’s judgment only reveals the tip of the iceberg and demonstrates why the Hostile Environment must be dismantled.”


Cathie Hawkins

20:21 PM, 1st March 2019
About 11 months ago

Although I had some embarrassment when a lovely British tenant wanted her foreign boyfriend to move in, so a new tenancy: I required R2R documentation for them both - she thought I was being racist. I followed the forms etc but what worried me is that I was expected to know if the documentation might be forged! I had never seen these documents before - they would have to be Really bad for me to think they were forged - but I didn’t/don’t feel safe that it couldn’t be argued that I should have been able to tell.


20:41 PM, 1st March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Cathie Hawkins at 01/03/2019 - 20:21
I find it hard to believe that landlords have to spot forgeries, isn't that what the help line was set up for if you have doubts? Where do I find a copy of the rules that apply to Landlords?

Luke P

22:59 PM, 1st March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by B4lamb at 01/03/2019 - 20:41
Try calling the helpline. In any case the requirement is to reject not report. No official or agency high-tails it on blue lights to take the illegal away, which, should a LL ever come across one, makes a mockery of the whole thing…considering the penalties on our side of the fence, adds a whole bunch of insult to injury.


23:11 PM, 1st March 2019
About 11 months ago

Personally I'd like to find out everything I can about a potential tenant before taking them on so the more you can legally request the better as far as I am concerned. The last person I would want is an illegal foreign criminal in one of my houses that shouldn't even be in the country.
This role out never made it to Wales and it doesn't now look likely that it ever will.


0:12 AM, 2nd March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Cathie Hawkins at 01/03/2019 - 20:21
There is no requirement to determine legal right to rent documents are forged. The wording in the guide just states "The document should not appear to obviously have been tampered
with." That is all. You would have a valid excuse if obvious tampering was not evident.
I do find it odd that should you have to reject a potential tenant because they do not hold valid R2R documentation or claim the home office holds the details so you can use the checking service that you then just refuse them accomodation and you don't have to report the person (s) to the authorities, so they just wander off and see if they can get accommodation with some other unsuspecting landlord. Quite open ended.

Luke P

0:27 AM, 2nd March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by B4lamb at 02/03/2019 - 00:12
I have had this very experience. Turned away someone with no documentation that I strong suspected was illegal (though didn’t have evidence) and they just wandered into the agency next door. I have no idea if they were accepted there, but I’m sure they will have acquired accommodation somewhere from someone. It’s a joke!


0:59 AM, 2nd March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 02/03/2019 - 00:27
No wonder the studies are showing the scheme to be ineffective, there is a fatal flaw in the basic process. Oddly they want to know when a time limited right to rent has expired when the home office should already have full knowledge of this fact as they would have authorised the the original time period in the first instance. Either I'm missing something obvious here or the border force authorities are happy for unidentified illegal imigrants to be wandering around the country getting accommodation where they can trying to trick private sector landlords. Please can someone more knowledgeable explain the purpose of the directive?

philip allen

5:50 AM, 2nd March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 01/03/2019 - 12:41
This is as good as it gets. Imagine the nightmare if Labour ever get in to Number 10 again.

terry sullivan

10:04 AM, 2nd March 2019
About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by philip allen at 02/03/2019 - 05:50
labor is already in no 10!

terry sullivan

10:05 AM, 2nd March 2019
About 11 months ago

i wonder how much we pay chai patel?

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