Conservative party leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are being called on to scrap the Right to Rent scheme by landlord and immigration organisations.
As the campaign for the Tory leadership – and the country’s next prime minister – enters its final phase, Residential Landlords Association, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the3million – which represents EU citizens in the UK – have joined forces to urge Johnson and Hunt to scrap the controversial policy.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, branded the Right to Rent a “failure” that had caused a “great deal of anxiety” among landlords fearful of the harsh repercussions of falling foul of the law.
Nicolas Hatton, CEO of the3million, said that many of the two-thirds of EU citizens in the UK living in private rented housing could be affected by this “failed scheme” after Brexit.
Right to Rent puts the onus of responsibility on a landlord to check a potential tenant’s immigration status, with a penalty of up to five years in prison if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” the tenant does not have legal status in the UK.
Brought in during Theresa May’s tenure as home secretary as part of the home office’s hostile environment, the policy was ruled to breach human rights law by the High Court earlier this year.
At the ruling in March of this year, Mr Justice Spencer said the scheme was “discriminatory” and had “little or no effect” on controlling immigration.
He ruled the scheme breached the European Convention on Human Rights as it led to discrimination against non-UK nationals, who had the right to rent as well as British ethnic minorities.
Smith, said: “Landlords should not be used to cover for the failings in the UK Border Agencies.”
Nicolas Hatton, CEO of the3million said: “We are already seeing that landlords are less likely to rent to anyone without a British passport, and uncertainty about Brexit added to the hostile environment will only increase the discrimination EU citizens are facing. We urge the UK government to scrap this scheme and end the discrimination.”
Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The Home Office is now arguing in its appeal that it is justified in causing racial discrimination against British ethnic minority families struggling to find a home. It is arguing that black and brown British people’s dignity, humanity, and rights can be tossed aside to pursue Theresa May’s Hostile Environment.
“That cannot be acceptable in modern Britain. The new prime minister must commit to ending landlord immigration checks, and the discrimination they cause”.