Nottingham City Council Update March 2019:
Just in case you’ve not heard, there has been a big change around what landlords have to check when it comes to letting accommodation…
A High Court ruling last month stated preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties was "discriminatory" and breached human rights laws.
The "right to rent" test, which requires landlords to check the immigration status of tenants, was introduced in England in 2016. It requires landlords, agents and tenants who have lodgers to check the immigration status of their prospective occupiers at the outset and during the tenancy. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
Among the comments made by the high court judges was:
‘’The extent of the discrimination is such that it is a short further step to conclude that this is having a real effect on the ability of those in the discriminated classes to obtain accommodation, either because they cannot get such accommodation at all or because it is taking significantly longer for them to secure accommodation.
… I have come to the firm conclusion that the Defendant has failed to justify the Scheme, indeed it has not come close to doing so. On the basis that the first question for the court to decide is whether Parliament’s policy, accorded all due respect, is manifestly without reasonable foundation, I so find. On that basis, there is no balancing of competing interests to be performed.
However, even if I am wrong about that, I would conclude that, in the circumstances of this case, Parliament’s policy has been outweighed by its potential for race discrimination. As I have found, the measures have a disproportionately discriminatory effect and I would assume and hope that those legislators who voted in favour of the Scheme would be aghast to learn of its discriminatory effect…”
Landlord interest groups have welcomed the decision with the Resident Landlord Association (RLA) believing the immigration checks turned landlords into "untrained and unwilling border police".
The homelessness charity Shelter were also pleased with the judgment with Deborah Garvie their policy manger writing ‘We’re extremely pleased by today’s judgment, which finds that the scheme breaches human rights, and that a proposed roll-out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without further evaluation of its efficacy and discriminatory impact would breach the Equality Act 2010.’'
This could be the first step in scrapping the policy,it will be up to parliament to decide this in future.
We still advise landlords to comply with the policy in England and keep records of the right to rent but it will be up to parliament to decide this in future.