Is a Right to Rent Check in Breach of Your Human Rights?

Courtney James (Student)

The Government’s right to rent policy requires landlords in England to check the immigration status of prospective tenants.

In February, a British man and his family were made homeless after a letting agent turned them away under Right to Rent rules. Rory McCormick put a deposit down on a property in Suffolk and he, his wife Anna and their two children, were due to move in to the property. Days before their move back to the UK from Ireland, they were advised that Anna’s Irish residency card could not be accepted even though it showed she had a right to live in the UK. What she needed instead was a UK permanent residence card. Their denial of the rental property led to the family of four sleeping in one bedroom in a relative’s house.

A challenge has recently been brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCQI). They claim that the scheme causes “race discrimination against those who are perfectly entitled to rent”.

The High Court have ruled that the scheme is incompatible with human rights laws. Mr Justice Spencer said that the policy was unlawful because it caused landlords to discriminate against British citizens from minority ethnic backgrounds and against foreign nationals who have a legal right to rent. It was also reported that the government has failed to show that the scheme has had any effect on encouraging illegal immigrants to leave the country, the original aim of the scheme.

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic can provide legal advice on housing matters, to book an appointment please call 01782 294800.

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