An Appeal Court judge has slammed landlord discrimination against ethnic minorities and non-UK nationals who want to rent a private home as ‘shocking’.
Lord Justice Hickinbottom was delivering his verdict on a government appeal against Right to Rent rules that require landlords and letting agents to check the immigration status of prospective tenants before letting them a home.
Right to Rent was introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2016 and is seen as a major plank of the UK’s get-tough policy against illegal immigration.
Landlords in England face a £3,000 fine if they reasonably believe they are renting to someone who does not have the right to stay in the UK.
Following a legal challenge from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) in March 2019, the High Court ruled Right to Rent infringed the human rights of ethnic minorities and non-UK nationals who had a right to live in Britain.
But the Court of Appeal backed the government appeal and reversed the High Court ruling.
“On the basis of the figures derived from the evidence most advantageous to the JCWI’s case (and leaving aside any discount for the statistical weaknesses in the data), just over half of private landlords do not discriminate in any way,” said the judge.
“Nearly half being guilty of discrimination is, of course, a high proportion – it is shocking – but it means that a potential tenant in the category most discriminated against (no British passport, and no ethically-British attributes) will on average take no longer than twice the time to obtain a tenancy as it would take someone with a British passport.
Right to Rent continues
“Whilst, of course, some potential tenants will be unfortunate and take longer than the average time, the evidence cannot support the contention that there are potential tenants who will never obtain private accommodation.”
In a statement issued after the ruling was handed down, Under Secretary of State for the Home Office Chris Philip confirmed Right to Rent rules remain in force while a review of the scheme is underway.
“The Court of Appeal has found that the Right to Rent Scheme is capable of being operated in a lawful way by landlords in all individual cases. We will continue to work with landlords and lettings agents to ensure that is the case,” he said.
The JCWI claims the ruling shows that Right to Rent causes discrimination and vowed to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.