The Right to Rent scheme was introduced across the country back in 2016, and makes landlords responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants. If they know, or simply have “reasonable cause to believe” that a property they are letting is occupied by someone without the right to rent in the UK, the landlord faces the prospect of prosecution.
If the Home Office identifies a tenant without the right to rent, they will issue a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person (NLDP) which can then be used by a landlord as a basis for repossessing a property.
But a new ruling by the High Court suggests that while the Home Secretary is protected from these letters being classed as breaching the Equality Act as a result of that position of office, landlords acting on those letters may not be so lucky. As such, there is a danger that they may be at risk of being subject to a civil claim.
Mr Justice Martin Spencer found that the scheme went against the European Convention on Human Rights as it led to discrimination against non-UK nationals with the right to rent, as well as British ethnic minorities.
And he suggested that landlords were being pushed into discriminatory actions “because of the scheme”, adding this was logical given the potential penalties they face.
Now the Residential Landlords Association has written to the Home Office to demand urgent changes to the legislation.
David Smith, policy director for the trade body, said that the system is “a farce”, adding: “To put landlords in a position where acting on a direct instruction provided by the Home Office leaves them open to breaching equality law cannot be tolerated.
“With the High Court having ruled that discrimination is baked into the Right to Rent scheme, it is time for the policy to be scrapped altogether.”