Right to Rent- discriminatory and incompatible with human rights law

Published on 11/03/2019

The High Court’s decision in R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others [2019] EWHC 452 (Admin) ( see for Judgment https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/452.html ) comes as no surprise to Chambers’ Head of Housing Amy Kelly who had already advised landlords against potentially discriminatory practices associated with the ‘Right to Rent’.

The political ideology behind the scheme, namely that persons who are in the UK illegally should not be able to obtain residential tenancies, appears simple. However, the obligation on landlords to check tenants and all adult occupants have a right to legally rent in England, has, in Amy’s experience, led to landlords and their letting agents being cautious when considering lets to those who might have a right to rent at the start of the tenancy but may not retain that status for the whole currency of the tenancy, necessitating further checks somewhere down the line.

Whilst it is understandable that landlords do not want to be put to the expense and burden of further checks, refusing to let because of a potentially fluctuating immigration status is exactly the sort of discriminatory practice considered by the High Court in coming to its decision that it would be incompatible with human rights law to roll out the scheme across the rest of the UK.

It will be interesting to see if the Goverment appeals or if any changes are made to to this legislation that turns landlords and their letting officers into immigration controllers.