The Government’s flagship Right to Rent (RtR) policy has been attacked as having failed “to demonstrate its worth” in encouraging immigration compliance.
Now, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) wants Right to Rent suspended pending a full evaluation of its impact – especially on the ability to rent a property of those who cannot easily prove their identity.
David Smith, Director of Policy for the RLA said the report represented a “damning critique of a failing policy”.
“The Inspector is clear that it has yet to demonstrate its worth and the Government has failed to take on board the concerns of key stakeholders in the sector.
“Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies – it is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy,” he said.
Under RtR landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK.
In a foreword to his report on the scheme, David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration concludes the policy has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance”.
He says the Home Office is “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders.”
The Government’s response to the report rules out including groups concerned with the rights and interests of migrants on its consultative panel on the policy – preventing the experiences of migrants themselves from being properly heard by the Government.
Ministers have also failed to accept the Inspector’s call for a more meaningful evaluation of the impact of the scheme on all those affected by it.
The fear of criminal sanctions has made many landlords reluctant to rent to non-UK nationals out of fear of being duped by forged documents.
Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has found the scheme has made 51% of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals – a percentage backed up by similar RLA research.
The same JCWI research found that 48% of landlords were less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme because of the threat of criminal sanctions.
This poses serious difficulties for the 17% of UK residents who do not have a passport.
The RLA is supporting a Judicial Review of the policy being sought by the JCWI which argues that the policy discriminates against foreign nationals.
Chai Patel, JCWI Legal Policy Director, said it was “disgraceful” that the Home Office had refused to properly evaluate whether or not the right to rent scheme was actually working to reduce irregular migration.
“They have no idea, unsurprisingly the Home Office has also refused to allow groups representing the migrants and ethnic minorities affected by this discriminatory scheme to sit on its consultative panel.
“It’s time for Amber Rudd to put an end to this divisive mess of a policy that forces landlords to act as immigration officials – until she does, we will continue to challenge it in the courts.”