AUTHOR: Graham Norwood
The controversial Right To Rent policy has been attacked as having failed “to demonstrate its worth” in encouraging immigration compliance.
Under Right To Rent, landlords, or agents acting on their behalf, 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.
But in a foreword to his report on the scheme, David Bolt – the independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration – concludes the policy has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance.”
He also writes that 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, thereby 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.
Now a trade body, the Residential Landlords Association, is calling for Right To Rent to be suspended pending a full evaluation of its impact, especially on the ability to rent a property of those who cannot easily prove their identity.
It says 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 has found that the scheme has made 51 per cent of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals. This is backed up by similar research by the RLA.
The same JCWI research found that 48 per cent 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.
The association says this poses serious difficulties for the 17 per cent of UK residents who do not have a passport, and it is backing calls for a Judicial Review of the policy being sought by the JCWI which argues that the policy discriminates against foreign nationals.
“[The] report is 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” says David Smith, director of policy for the RLA.
“Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”