I normally write about the Huntingdon and Peterborough property market, but this issue is a nationwide problem that affects us all.
Not exactly breaking news, as it was announced on 1st March. But the best news I have heard all week! The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in England in 2016 and forces Landlords to check the immigration status of tenants. The Government think this will root out illegal immigrants, but so far it has caused more discrimination than anything else. Like most of my colleagues, I am a Landlord, not an immigration officer.
It Is planned to introduce this ludicrous scheme to Scotland, N Ireland and Wales. However, the High Court Judges are now saying this would be illegal without further evaluation. At last, someone is taking a sensible approach to this absurd and unfair scheme. My team and I at Opal Lettings have campaigned against it from day one.
So, the Home Office are disappointed by the ruling. Of course they are! It means they will have to do the extra work they should have been doing in the first place, once this daft ruling is scrapped.
Mr Justice Spencer opined the scheme has “little or no effect” on controlling immigration, and even if it had, it is “significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect”. He also said it was evident the scheme were causing Landlords to avoid certain tenants based on their nationality for fear of breaking the law. This in turn is making it impossible for some people to find accommodation. For us Landlords it deprives us of 16% of the rental market.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) decided to challenge this, hence the High Court ruling. The JCWI’s take on it is “race discrimination against those who are perfectly entitled to rent”. And quite rightly too. Most of us Landlords do not care what country a tenant comes from. We only want them to pay their rent on time and look after the property.
So Parliament are now being asked to scrap the policy, and it is beginning to look like they will have to. Unfortunately, they are considering an appeal, we can only hope they will lose. It basically meant that if a Landlord came across a non UK passport, they would likely avoid that tenant. As the other option would be potentially guilty of a criminal offence, with either five years in prison or a hefty fine to complement it.
It is a totally ridiculous idea, which needs to be relegated to the past where it belongs. So let’s hope the JCWI brings this appeal to a successful conclusion. Then all of us Landlords can get on with what we do, which is provide accommodation to one and all.