‘Right to rent’ causing landlords to avoid letting to foreign tenants

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling for a judicial review of the government’s “right to rent” policy after it emerged that landlords are being put off letting to non-UK nationals due to fear of sanctions.

All landlords in the UK must check that their tenants have the right to rent in the UK before agreeing their tenancies, regardless of the tenant’s nationality, and landlords who fail to carry out the relevant checks, or let out properties knowing their tenants are not legally eligible, face penalty fines.
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However, research from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has found that more than half (51%) of landlords have been deterred from letting to foreign nationals as a result of the scheme, with 48% stating they were less likely to rent to someone who didn’t have a British passport for fear that they could be at risk of sanctions. A further 49% said they were less likely, because of “right to rent”, to let property to someone who only had permission to live in the UK for a limited amount of time.

With 17% of UK residents currently not in possession of a passport, these figures have been flagged up by the RLA, and the association has called for a suspension of the “right to rent” policy until a full evaluation of its impact has been carried out.

Controversial and unwelcome policy must be reviewed

A report by David Bolt, independent chief inspector of Borders and Immigration, was published last week attacking the scheme, with Bolt arguing that the policy has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance” and that the Home Office is “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders”.

Commenting on the inspector’s report, RLA policy director David Smith said:

“[The] report is a damning critique of a failing policy. Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”

Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, added: “It’s disgraceful that the Home Office has refused to properly evaluate whether or not the right to rent scheme is actually working to reduce irregular migration. They have no idea.”

Discrimination in the private rented sector has been highlighted recently after a female tenant won a case against a letting agent who refused to accept her due to her benefits status, which has prompted calls for a review of landlords and agents who ban “DSS” tenants from applying.

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