"Right to Rent checks are justified" says Court of Appeal


The Court of Appeal has ruled that the right to rent checks required by the Home Office are "justified".

The right to rent regime was created by the Home Office as part of their hostile measures agenda. The purpose of the regime is to make life as difficult as possible for those who are in the United Kingdom without valid leave to remain. Businesses will already be familiar with some hostile measures - right to work checks also form part of the scheme. 

Landlords who fail to complete (correctly) right to rent checks could face a fine and up to five years in prison. 

Considering the growth of the UK's private rented sector, these checks are a rather terrifying measure for landlords. Research conducted by the Residential Landlords Association found that 44% of landlords were less likely to consider letting to someone who did not have a British passport. If that statistic was not evidence enough of the potential for discrimination then consider this: 53% of landlords stated they were less likely to consider letting to people who had limited leave to remain in the UK (i.e. lawful non-British residents). That means that someone who is here lawfully may be denied a letting. 

The High Court was convinced that these measures were disproportionately discriminatory and that they would actually have little to no effect on controlling immigration. If anything the scheme made life harder for those who were in the UK lawfully (albeit for a limited period) or those British citizens who did not have a passport. The Home Office appealed and the Court of Appeal agreed with the Home Office appeal. It found that the scheme was justified. 

Landlords will therefore have to continue to complete right to rent checks on all tenancies. The challenge will be to make sure that they do so in a way that does not lead to claims of discrimination. 

It is also important to note that the responsibility to complete a right to rent check is not automatically delegated or shifted to estate agents. The responsibility to complete the check will always sit with the landlord unless an express agreement to the contrary is made between the landlord and the estate agent. 

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The government has won an appeal over its controversial right to rent scheme, which was last year ruled by the high court to be racially discriminatory. The scheme, which is a key element of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” for illegal migration, requires private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants and prospective tenants. Those landlords that fail to complete checks can face fines and up to five years in prison. The high court found last year that requiring landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants was unlawful and racially discriminatory because it caused landlords to discriminate against British citizens from minority ethnic backgrounds and against foreign nationals who had a legal right to rent.
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