The government is giving no ground over “racist” Right To Rent, as it prepares to appeal the High Court’s rejection of the policy.
But a Home Office minister has conceded to the possibility of further evaluation of its operation.
In a written Parliamentary response, Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford maintained the provisions of the policy remain in force with landlords and letting agents still obliged to conduct Right To Rent checks as required in legislation.
Lord Ouseley had asked what steps government intended to take in response to the High Court judgment that Right To Rent was discriminatory and incompatible with the right to freedom from discrimination enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Baroness Williams said the government “disagrees” with the High Court’s findings and has been granted permission to appeal the judgment on all grounds – with the law “absolutely clear” that landlords should not discriminate when carrying out Right To Rent checks.
“We are looking at options for a further evaluation of the operation of the scheme. As part of this, we will look to develop further mechanisms to monitor the operation of the Scheme to provide ongoing assurance about its impact,” said Williams.
She confirmed the Home Secretary has written to the independent adviser on lessons learned from Windrush, Wendy Williams, to draw her attention to the High Court’s findings.
The Right To Rent Consultative Panel is due to meet again next month to look at the operation of the Scheme and the guidance provided to landlords and lettings agents.
Accused of pursuing a policy that promoted racism, Theresa May has proved unrepentant over the High Court ruling – even when accused at PMQs of promoting a policy “fanning the flames of racism”.
As reported by 24housing, the High Court delivered a damning blow to the policy as a breach of human rights law, with Justice Spencer concluding that discrimination by landlords was taking place “because of the Scheme”.
The government’s own evaluation had, said Justice Spencer, failed to consider discrimination on grounds of nationality at all – only on grounds of ethnicity.
Right To Rent made landlords responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants, with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the Right To Rent in the UK.
It was introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary as a key plank of the government’s “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) joined with Liberty to intervene in a case brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to have the policy declared as incompatible with human rights.
This was on the grounds that Right To Rent was leading to discrimination against non-UK nationals who might be in the country legitimately and British ethnic minorities.