The Right to Rent scheme which required landlords to check the passports and immigration status of prospective tenants has been found to be unlawful – as it encouraged racial discrimination against anybody with a foreign-sounding name or a foreign passport.
The scheme itself threatened landlords with unlimited fines and up to five years in jail if their tenants could not produce all the right immigration paperwork. But in a landmark ruling the High Court has declared one of Theresa May’s flagship schemes from her time as Home Secretary, to be unlawful.
The court found that the Government ignored evidence of these risks and, in turn, that it failed to provide any evidence the scheme delivers anything but misery and state-sanctioned hostility – targeted predominantly at minorities, people of colour, and people who were born somewhere else. The case was brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants who warned the Government for years about the inherent risks of the scheme, as well as its cruelty and of the hostile environment it created. They were supported by various organisations in opposing Right to Rent, including the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Even after the Home Office’s defeat, more public money might be spent on appealing against the decision, despite the judgement making it very clear there is no “improved” version of the policy that could be considered lawful. The scheme had effectively delegated border guards’ responsibilities to landlords and their letting agents. Many landlords were deeply unhappy with this and feedback from a pilot scheme was not positive. However, it also meant many people were turned away by landlords, simply because they could not produce a British passport.
By Patrick Mooney, Editor