Right to Rent Does Not Break the Law, Appeal Court Rules

Right to Rent has taken a new twist with the Court of Appeal ruling the measure does not breach human rights or equality laws. 

The controversial law was introduced with the Immigration Act 2016 and demands landlords police the immigration status of tenants before agreeing to rent them a home. 

Right to Rent made a criminal offence of letting a home to someone ‘reasonably believed’ of illegally living in the UK. In March 2019, the High Court decided that the Right to Rent was against the European Convention of Human Rights after a challenge mounted by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), supported by the Residential Landlords Association, now the National Residential Landlords Association. 

The JCWI claimed Right to Rent made landlords discriminate against renting to ethnic minorities and non-British nationals legally in Britain. But the Court of Appeal disagreed and overturned the verdict. 

Lord Justice Hickinbottom disregarded the claim by JWCI that the Right to Rent led to half of the landlords discriminating against ethnic minorities.

“On the basis of the figures derived from the evidence most advantageous to the JCWI’s case (and leaving aside any discount for the statistical weaknesses in the data), just over half of private landlords do not discriminate in any way,” said the judge. 

“Nearly half being guilty of discrimination is, of course, a high proportion – it is shocking – but it means that a potential tenant in the category most discriminated against (no British passport, and no ethically-British attributes) will on average take no longer than twice the time to obtain a tenancy as it would take someone with a British passport.

“Whilst, of course, some potential tenants will be unfortunate and take longer than the average time, the evidence cannot support the contention that there are potential tenants who will never obtain private accommodation.”

In a statement issued after the ruling was handed down,  Under Secretary of State for the Home Office Chris Philip confirmed Right to Rent rules remain in force while a review of the scheme is underway.

“The government is committed to tackling discrimination in all its forms and to having an immigration system which provides control, but which is also fair, humane and fully compliant with the law. The Court of Appeal has found that the Right to Rent Scheme is capable of being operated in a lawful way by landlords in all individual cases. We will continue to work with landlords and lettings agents to ensure that is the case,” he said.

The JCWI claims the ruling shows that Right to Rent causes discrimination and vowed to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. 

Read the full Court of Appeal Right to Rent ruling.

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