Right to Rent ‘causing discrimination’ in the housing market

The Government is being urged to scrap or at least set up an independent inquiry into the Right to Rent scheme before it is rolled out beyond England after widespread evidence of discrimination by landlords and agents has emerged.

A report titled ‘Passport Please’ by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found that foreigners and British citizens without passports, particularly those from ethnic minorities, are being discriminated against in the private rental housing market as a result of Right to Rent.

The JCWI conducted surveys of landlords and a mystery shopping exercise to assess how the Right to Rent scheme has been implemented since its introduction in October 2015.

Just over half (51%) of landlords and agents said they were now less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals from outside the EU, while 18% were less likely to rent to EU nationals as well.

The mystery shopping exercise found that where neither a white British tenant nor a black or ethnic minority (BME) British tenant had a passport, the BME tenant was 14% more likely to be turned away or ignored.

JCWI’s mystery shopping exercise found no evidence of ethnicity discrimination where a non BME and a BME British citizen both held passports – suggesting that the discrimination arises from the scheme itself.

Additionally, 85% of inquiries from asylum seekers, stateless persons and victims of modern day slavery, who require landlords to do an online check with the Home Office to confirm they have been granted permission to rent, received no response at all from landlords in the mystery shopping exercise.

Saira Grant, chief executive of JCWI, said: “We have been warning for some time that the Right to Rent scheme is failing on all fronts.

“It treats many groups who need housing unfairly, it is clearly discriminatory, it is putting landlords in an impossible position, and there is no evidence that it is doing anything to tackle irregular immigration.

“Creating a so-called ‘hostile environment’ that targets vulnerable men, women and children is bad enough, implementing a scheme that traps and discriminates against British citizens is absurd.

“Expanding the scheme to devolved nations without taking into account the discrimination it causes would be misguided and unjustifiable. It is time to stop the scheme before it does any more damage.”

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5 Comments

  1. Will

    This government is so keen to knock out legislation so quickly that it keeps getting it wrong time and time again.  The problems referred to in this article were wholly predictable. Government is making it more and more difficult with their LANDLORD BASHING ways do they really expect us to take up even more time in doing detailed research (that the Home Office should be doing!) and then labeling everyone as criminals if they get it wrong.  Perhaps this is where the real LA LA LAND is;  in the Houses of Parliament and the Government offices and so called think tanks!

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    1. MrSerious

      Agreed, everything Will says.

      We recently completed a similar survey, by the RLA I think, and we responded ‘Yes’, we would be less likely to negotiate terms with a non-UK or non-EU foreign national. This is inevitable and a predictable statistic: landlords must protect themselves, so the percentage will reduce.  This is NOT in itself discrimination though.

      However, we certainly do not REFUSE such applicants initially.  We just look much more carefully at their details, AND references – we have to.  Quite simply, if they cannot provide assurance of good covenant we will not proceed.  We did refuse after investigation to pursue one application from an Indian national couple as one of them had an unclear Visa status; and no solid UK-based reference.  We politely explained this to them at a meeting, and said that the new law prevented us from proceeding.  Shame, as they were a nice couple, but they accepted the position gracefully..

      Interestingly, our most recent letting was in fact to a Romanian-national couple who work in the hospitality business, and they provided details and excellent references from verifiable UK and EU (Spain) sources.

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      1. Will

        Mr Serious is, of course correct.  Landlords do what everyone does and that is called a risk assessment and merely because someone might pass the Governments right to rent checks does NOT mean they  will necessarily be a suitable tenant so the whole legislation thing is crazy.  The illegals will bunk down elsewhere where crooked (I refuse to use the term rogue) or criminal landlords will make hay from charging them higher rents to reflect the risk of getting caught.  Its a bit like prohibition in the USA in the 1930’s or drugs like cannabis now, if you don’t stop it; it goes underground into a much shadier place.

        If only the Home office did their jobs landlords would not have to do it for them. If anyone coming in illegally is caught they should be classed as criminals (which of course they are) and be banned from making any application for a period of say 10 years and immediately deported. We should not be allowing criminal to stay in the UK and coming in on the back of a lorry is a criminal act. Sound severe? maybe but if people are allowed in by criminal means you are sending the wrong signal.  Of course this will be argued against by many and government officials seem to constantly do the wrong thing.  This is not racist or discrimination merely keeping the criminals out.  I guess this might be discrimination against criminals!!!!

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  2. Beano

    I find asking someone where they are from (because they might not appear or sound British born) seems quite often to be taken by the respondent as a question that might affect their ability to be provided with housing.

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  3. marcH

    Well, there’s a surprise………and “victims of modern day slavery” , am I seeing things?

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