Do Landlords Still Have to Do Right to Rent Checks?

A crushing defeat in the courts for government Right to Rent laws has left landlords in limbo. 

They are left with having to enforce a law that breaches the human rights of tenants after a High Court judge ruled Right to Rent breaches European human rights law by discriminating against many tenants renting a private home. 

The government could inflict hefty financial penalties if they do not enforce the Right to Rent. 

The Home Office has issued no guidance on what to do. 

The only official statement says an independent survey did not reveal any evidence of systemic discrimination against immigrants and British citizens who had no passport of black, Asian or Middle Eastern descent. 

The Home Office spokesman added the government was disappointed with the ruling, leave for an appeal has been granted and consideration was being given over how to proceed. 

The court ruling is a first step in what happens to Right to Rent. Judge Martin Spencer found Right to Rent was incompatible with Articles 8 and 14 of the European Human Rights Convention and that a planned roll-out of the legislation to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland would be ‘irrational’ and breached Section 149 of the Equality Act unless the Home Office carried out an adequate evaluation of the scheme. 

“The pressing question for many will be, what does this ruling mean? Do landlords and agents no longer do the checks? The short answer is that nothing changes for the moment. ” said David Smith, a partner at prominent property law firm Anthony Gold, writing about the implications of the case

“The ruling by a High Court judge is that the Right to Rent scheme, in its entirety, is in breach of the Human Rights Act because its inevitable consequence is to lead landlords to discriminate. However, the Human Rights Act does not permit courts to strike down primary legislation, so that legislation will remain in place now and checks still need to be done.” 

Right to Rent was challenged at a judicial review in the High Court by the JOINT Council for the welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), the Residential Landlords Association, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Liberty.

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