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High Court rules the Right to Rent scheme is unlawful, causes racism and cannot be reformed


JCWI succeeds in its legal challenge against the Immigration Act 2014's Right to Rent scheme

Date of Publication:
01 March 2019

High Court rules the Right to Rent scheme is unlawful, causes racism and cannot be reformed

01 March 2019

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has announced this morning that it had been successful in its legal challenge against the Immigration Act 2014's Right to Rent scheme.

According to JCWI, the High Court ruled that the scheme is unlawful and it causes racism and cannot be reformed (EIN members can read the full judgment here).

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) reported that Mr Justice Martin Spencer ruled the scheme breached the European Convention on Human Rights on the basis that it led to discrimination against non-UK nationals and British ethnic minorities.

The Judge said the scheme "does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not", describing such discrimination by landlords a being "logical and wholly predicable" when faced with potential sanctions and penalties for getting things wrong.

Mr Justice Spencer concluded: "The safeguards used by the government to avoid discrimination, namely online guidance, telephone advice and codes of conduct and practice, have proved ineffective.

"In my judgment, in those circumstances, 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."

Doughty Street Chambers reported: "The Court went on to find that the Home Secretary had “not come close” to showing that the discriminatory effect of the scheme was justified. Even if the Scheme had been shown to be effective in playing its part in controlling immigration, “legislators who voted in favour of the Scheme would be aghast to learn of its discriminatory effect as shown by the evidence”. “But the nail in the coffin of justification is that, on the evidence I have seen, the Scheme has had little or no effect and … the [Home Secretary] has put in place no reliable system for evaluating the efficacy of the Scheme”."

David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, said: "Today’s ruling is a damning critique of a flagship Government policy. We have warned all along that turning landlords into untrained and unwilling border police would lead to the exact form of discrimination the court has found.

"We call on the government to accept the decision, scrap the Right to Rent, and consider what else can be done to sensibly manage migration, without having to rely on untrained landlords to do the job of the Home Office."

Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director for JCWI, said today’s judgment only reveals the tip of the iceberg and demonstrates why the Hostile Environment must be dismantled.

Patel added: "There is no place for racism in the UK housing market. Now that the High Court has confirmed that Theresa May’s policy actively causes discrimination, Parliament must act immediately to scrap it. But we all know that this sort of discrimination, caused by making private individuals into border guards, affects almost every aspect of public life – it has crept into our banks, hospitals, and schools."

BBC News reported that the Home Office said it was "disappointed" with the ruling.

The Home Office added that it had been granted permission to appeal and was giving careful consideration to the judge's comments.