Home Office reveals landlords do not discriminate against tenants

Home Office reveals landlords do not discriminate against tenants

14:50 PM, 14th February 2023, About A year ago 4

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Landlords do not ‘systemically discriminate’ against tenants, according to a new Home Office report. 

The government has published the findings of a evaluation into the operation of the Right to Rent Scheme. The scheme requires landlords of privately rented accommodation to conduct checks on all new tenants to establish if they have a legal right to live in the UK and therefore have the right to rent.

The study included 300 interviews with landlords and a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise involving 2,000 tenants who approached landlords and letting agents.

Does the right to rent scheme lead to unlawful race discrimination?

The central question in the evaluation was whether the Right to Rent scheme leads to unlawful race discrimination.

In the findings, the Home Office said: “Some clear examples of discriminatory attitudes were found, but there was insufficient evidence to claim any systematic unlawful discrimination as a result of the scheme.”

The report highlighted that most landlords and letting agents were helpful (67%) and friendly (65%) and Right to Rent requirements were dealt with in a matter-of-fact way, with some landlords not mentioning the checks at all at this stage of the rental process.

The report said that 14% of landlords would not rent to a UK national without a passport.

Private landlords less informed about Right to Rent Scheme

The research found that landlords who don’t use a letting agent tended to have less of an understanding of the Right to Rent scheme’s details. In the data, 53% of landlords considered themselves to be well or quite well informed about the scheme, with 44% considering themselves poorly or not at all informed.

In total, 55% of landlords said that they have a positive opinion of the Right to Rent scheme. In the survey, landlords said: “It is an extra layer of protection for me, to ensure that there would be no lengthy and costly evictions if I took on someone who shouldn’t be renting in the first place.”

However there were some negative comments about the scheme. The key reason for a negative opinion towards the scheme was that the responsibility for immigration checks should not fall on landlords. A landlord said in the survey: “It’s hard to avoid discrimination and whilst it hasn’t increased my workload it has considerably increased my costs. I’m also nervous about inadvertently breaching it.”

‘Self-managing landlords have a knowledge gap’

Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark said: “It is clear from this review that self-managing landlords have a knowledge gap and it’s not surprising.

“Right to Rent has been through many complex changes in the last three years with Covid 19 lockdowns, the end of freedom of movement due to the UK’s exit from the EU and the introduction of the Home Office’s real time digital systems.”

He added: “Professional agents, particularly those in membership with a body like Propertymark, taking their compliance responsibilities seriously dedicate time and CPD to ensuring they are fully compliant.”

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northern landlord

13:27 PM, 15th February 2023, About A year ago

How can the Home Office be so sure? I don’t think landlords and agents are racist and discriminate on that basis but they do just want an easy life. It’s easier to take on a British Citizen as a tenant over someone whose immigration status is potentially in doubt and needs checking. After all it is easy to decline any prospective tenant, especially as these days there are plenty more waiting in the wings. It seems unfair that landlords have to act as unpaid immigration officers. Not only that, if they get it wrong ““A landlord (not their agent?) will normally be liable for a civil penalty if they authorise occupation of accommodation for use as an only or main home by a person who does not have the right to rent” (Govt. Guidelines). So low risk strategy, don’t get involved if there is a shred of doubt.

The first thing the online checking service asks for is a home office reference so it seems any bona fide migrant should be registered with the home office. As such the home office will know if they have the right to rent so should provide the migrant with a photo id “right to rent certificate” as matter of course and take the onus off of the landlord/agent. All the landlord/agent need do is copy it and file it or using the certificate number check it online.

Reluctant Landlord

13:47 PM, 15th February 2023, About A year ago

it totally happens so lets not be under any illusion here.
Discrimination can cover any number of reasons why a tenant is refused and knowing what the law is like, the most obvious rejection given probably is based on ability to pay - ergo hiding (for one example) the real reason why a benefit receiver can be refused a tenancy.

Again you could still argue that there is a financial risk on taking on any non UK passport holder - they can at any time leave and return to whatever country they originate from - the risk is therefore financial if you cannot possibly chase a potential debt/costs for damages etc.

Where there is a right to stay (and therefore a right to rent) there are restrictions eg no right to public monies - so again it is perfectly acceptable to associate this to an unreasonable financial risk as the state wont be paying the rent either. (just like not having a guarantor in place).

Paul Essex

18:33 PM, 15th February 2023, About A year ago

Interestingly I have not seen a discussion on limited stay tenants in the proposals to remove section 21. Could you end up with legally having to remove a tenant and legally being unable to so?

Luke P

1:11 AM, 16th February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Essex at 15/02/2023 - 18:33
Very likely, yes.

I had this conversation only today…a requirement to rewire (due to EICR fail) or, sizeable works to meet whatever new EPC standard they bring in may necessitate a vacant property and therefore eviction, yet I doubt there’ll be provision in the ‘bolstered’ s.8…

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