Right to Rent

The Right to Rent law was introduced in England on 1 February 2016. It makes it a statutory requirement that all private landlords must check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property. 

Under the rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.

The law means that private landlords, including those who sub-let or take in lodgers, must check the right of prospective tenants to be in the country to avoid being hit with a penalty.

Right to rent was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 as part of the government’s reforms of the immigration system.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is challenging the UK Government to freeze its rollout of the Right to Rent scheme, through which immigration checks are devolved to landlords, until it has addressed evidence that the scheme leads to discrimination against foreign nationals, Britons without passports and British black and minority ethnic (BME) tenants.

This comes following a JCWI report which found evidence that racial discrimination is likely to have occurred as a result of the Right to Rent scheme following its introduction across England in 2016.

The Government intends to roll out the scheme to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, despite evidence throwing into doubt the legality of a roll out and a lack of evidence as to its efficacy and cost-effectiveness. A date for introduction to Northern Ireland has not yet been set. More information is available on the Housing Rights website. 

JCWI found in a report released in February this year that:

  • 51% of landlords surveyed said that the scheme would make them less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals
  • 42% of landlords stated that they were less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme. This rose to 48% when explicitly asked to consider the impact of the criminal sanction.
  • An enquiry from a British Black Minority Ethnic (BME) tenant without a passport was ignored or turned down by 58% of landlords, in a mystery shopping exercise.

The report, backed by the Residential Landlords Association, also found no evidence the scheme was achieving its stated aim of encouraging irregular migrants to leave the UK and threw into doubt its value for money.

JCWI claims that the Government must carry out and publish a full evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme to demonstrate its efficacy and cost-effectiveness, and non-discriminatory impact, before it can be legally extended to the rest of the UK. JCWI is threatening further legal action if the Government fails to comply.

JCWI is using the legal crowdfunding site CrowdJustice to meet the costs of preparing and pursuing this challenge. Members of the public who oppose the right to rent rollout will be able to contribute to the challenge from Tuesday 16 May at this link: www.crowdjustice.com/case/right-to-rent/

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