Last week, the High Court ruled that Right to Rent Checks in England are incompatible with human rights law. The scheme, introduced by Theresa May as part of her hostile environment policy, puts the onus on landlords to check the immigration status of tenants, which has resulted in many landlords discriminating as they avoid renting properties to non-British passport holders. After campaigning and a case brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the High Court has now confirmed that this Government scheme is in breach of human rights laws.
What are Right to Rent Checks?
The Right to Rent Scheme was introduced in England in 2016 under the Immigration Act 2014. It requires landlords to check the immigration status of tenants. Failure to do so will result in landlords receiving civil penalties including fines of up to £3,000 per tenant or even time in prison. The onus has therefore been placed on landlords to ensure their tenants have permission to be in the UK lawfully. This can be done by checking visa stamps in passports or requesting for Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) and checking that all documents are up to date.
This has drawn a lot of criticism as it is not the job of landlords to monitor illegal immigration in the UK, but the Home Office and Immigration Enforcement. Further, it has led to a great deal of discrimination against non-British passport holders who are still entitled to rent, yet landlords reluctant to rent to anyone without a British passport, particularly ethnic minorities and people from overseas because of the consequences they may face for not conducting these checks.
How are Right to Rent Checks Incompatible with Human Rights Law?
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants initially flagged out its concerns over Right to Rent Checks in July 2013 when the Home Office issued a consultation document entitled “Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation”. Three years later and the Right to Rent scheme was implemented, but it soon became clear that the concerns were justified as many migrant tenants were turned away on the basis of race. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants then took this matter to court where Mr. Justice Spencer stated in his judgement that:
“…sections 20-37 of the Immigration Act 2014 are incompatible with Article 14 ECHR in conjunction with Article 8 ECHR; and […] discriminatory impact would be irrational and would constitute a breach of s149 Equality Act 2010.”
This does not come as a shock to many, as there was a great deal of opposition to the scheme, with many branding it as discriminatory. Now, the High Court agrees. Right to Rent Checks are not currently enforced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Justice Spencer has said it would be illegal if these countries were to adopt the scheme.
As a landlord, do I still need to conduct Right to Rent Checks?
The Home Office said it was “disappointed” by the ruling and has given a right of appeal and has said that “an independent study found no evidence of systematic discrimination in its policy and the scheme was intended to discourage illegal residence in the UK”. So currently, the Right to Rent scheme still stands. However, it is strongly advisable to seek legal advice from our qualified immigration lawyers to find out if and how to carry out right to rent checks. Equally, migrants should also contact us to get advice on any UK visas and immigration application. Whether you have status in the UK and want to learn about your settlement options (also known as indefinite leave to remain) or if you have no legal status and want to legalise your stay, then our specialist immigration team can arrange a consultation with you and find a solution to your problems.
Using Legal Representation to understand Right to Rent Checks
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status ensuring you comply with the Immigration Rules. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to assist you with understanding and complying with the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided. This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that you comply with the UK Immigration Rules.
Successfully comply with Right to Rent Checks
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and whether you comply with the Right to Bank Check before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.