The government’s controversial Right to Rent scheme is causing racial discrimination and violating human rights law, the High Court has found.
The law, which requires private landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants, was found to violate the European Convention on Human Rights.
Judge Martin Spencer found the policy caused landlords to discriminate against both black and ethnic minority British people and foreign UK residents.
He also ruled that rolling out the scheme in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland without further evaluation would be “irrational” and breach equality laws.
“The evidence, when taken together, strongly showed not only that landlords are discriminating against potential tenants on grounds of nationality and ethnicity but also that they are doing so because of the scheme,” Mr Justice Spencer told the court on 1 March.
“It is my view that the scheme introduced by the government does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate, but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not.”
Changes that came into force in 2016 required private landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants, or face unlimited fines or even prison for renting to undocumented migrants.
Mr Justice Spencer said the government’s own evaluation of Right to Rent “failed to consider discrimination on grounds of nationality at all, only on grounds of ethnicity”, even though it was a “logical and wholly predicable” consequence.
“The safeguards used by the government to avoid discrimination, namely online guidance, telephone advice and codes of conduct and practice, have proved ineffective,” the judgment continued.
“The government cannot wash its hands of responsibility for the discrimination which is taking place by asserting that such discrimination is carried out by landlords acting contrary to the intention of the scheme.”
Photo Credit: Albert Bridge