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13 March 2019

162: Right to rent scheme breaches basic right to freedom from discrimination

The High Court has recently ruled that the Government’s ‘right to rent’ scheme is in breach of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The right to rent scheme came into force in 2016 (England only) to allow the Government to deal with landlords who let residential properties to illegal immigrants. Landlords and agents of residential properties are required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants to ensure that they have the right to be in the UK. Failure to comply with the right to rent obligations can result in criminal sanctions for landlords and agents.

The High Court has held that the right to rent scheme is incompatible with the right to freedom from discrimination under the ECHR. The scheme has left some categories of people who were entitled to rent finding it increasingly hard to secure a home.

The judge stated the scheme has had ‘little or no effect’ on its aim of controlling immigration and any effects of the scheme are ‘significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect’.

Despite this ruling, landlords and their agents in England will still need to comply with the right to rent scheme and carry out immigration checks until the current legislation is amended.  The Immigration Act 2014, which introduced the right to rent scheme, remains in full effect and force.

The Government has now been given permission to appeal this decision so expect further updates on this in due course.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 452 (Admin) (1 March 2019)

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