Last year we posted about the case of R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 452 (Admin) in which the High Court deemed that Right to Rent checks in England are incompatible with human rights law. However, last week the Court of Appeal has reversed this High Court decision. Right to Rent Checks have been condemned by migrants, landlords, immigration practitioners and ministers and this recent judgement comes at a huge blow to the rights of immigrants in the UK.
What was decided in the Court of Appeal case on Right to Work Checks?
The Court of Appeal in the case of the Secretary of State for the Home Department v R (Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants)  EWCA Civ 542 has overturned the previous High Court decision which found that Right to Rent Checks are discriminatory. Lord Justice Hickinbottom acknowledged that Right to Rent Checks has led to discrimination, but stated that:
“… I am satisfied that, as a result of the Scheme, some landlords do discriminate against potential tenants who do not have British passports, and particularly those who have neither such passports nor ethnically-British attributes such as name [but] the nature and level of discrimination must be kept in perspective”.
Furthermore, Davis LJ issued a harsh separate judgment that forcefully denies any causal link between Right to Rent Checks and discrimination by individual landlords. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says it will appeal this decision.
What is the Right to Rent Scheme?
People who are allowed to be in the UK have the right to rent. People who are not allowed to be in the UK do not have a right to rent (i.e. people who are not settled nor have any visa status in the UK). The Right to Rent scheme was introduced by Theresa May as part of her hostile immigration policy. Right to Rent Checks put the onus on landlords to check the immigration status of potential new tenants. As a result, many landlords have avoided renting properties to non-British passport holders; which was found to be discriminatory.
Are Right to Rent Checks a legal requirement?
The Home Office made failures to comply with Right to Rent Check a criminal offence under Immigration Act 2016. Under section 39 of the Immigration Act 2016, if a landlord or agent knowingly rents a property to a person who has been disqualified from renting in the UK as a result of holding unlawful immigration status in the UK they will be liable for:
(a) on conviction on indictment – to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, to a fine or to both; or
(b) on summary conviction – to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine or to both.
When did right to rent checks come in?
Initially announced in 2014, the Right to Rent pilot scheme was rolled out in England in February 2016. From December 2016, landlords or agents in England can be charged with a criminal offence if they know, or have reasonable cause to believe, that they are letting a property to an illegal migrant.
What documents do you need for a right to rent check?
A landlord or agent should obtain and check an adult’s original ID documents (such as passport, biometric residence permit and national ID card (if applicable)) before allowing them to live in the property. The landlord or agent should make a copy of the document and retain it securely for the duration of the tenancy and for 12 months after the tenancy ends. The Home Office has published helpful guidance for landlords and agents on how to properly conduct Right to Rent Checks, including the types of documentation that should be requested.
Right to Rent Checks during COVID-19
Due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office has introduced temporary changes to the way landlords or agents can check documents. For the time being, documents can be checked digitally and once the restrictions are lifted the originals can then be checked and copied at a later date. Guidance on the adjusted process can be found here.
Using our Immigration Solicitors in London to comply with 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 with our Immigration Solicitors in London
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.