Government policy ‘encourages landlord discrimination’

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is going up against government over ‘Right to Rent’.

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A ‘mystery shopper’ exercise conducted by an immigrant support group has uncovered evidence of landlord discrimination – encouraged by government policy.

Now, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is crowdfunding for a legal challenge to the so-called ‘Right to Rent’ scheme, that, since February last year, effectively forces landlords to conduct immigration checks on their tenants.

Introduced by Theresa May as home secretary, the aim of the scheme is to deny undocumented migrants housing, encouraging them to leave the UK. Landlords are required to check whether someone has the right to be in the UK.

The JCWI ‘mystery shopper’ test found a would-be tenant with a British BME (black and minority ethnic) background enquiring about a house without a passport was 26% more likely to be turned down by landlords than a British applicant person with a passport.

And 42% of surveyed landlords also said they would be less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme, while 51% said the scheme would make them less likely to consider renting to foreign nationals.

JCWI has written to the Home Office to halt the rollout of the scheme for a full evaluation of its effects – with government warned of court action if it fails to comply.

And 42% of surveyed landlords also said they would be less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme, while 51% said the scheme would make them less likely to consider renting to foreign nationals.

The council is crowdfunding its legal fees for that challenge.

Saira Grant, chief executive of JCWI, said: “In the face of clear evidence of discrimination under Right to Rent, the government must show it is not acting illegally before it presses ahead with a rollout to the rest of the UK.

“This is a scheme that not only discriminates against BME Britons, foreign nationals and British nationals without passports – it imposes costs on landlords, agents and tenants too.

“In the absence of any clear plan to monitor its effects the government must carry out a thorough review – until then, any extension to other parts of the UK would be premature, dangerous, and potentially illegal.”

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