Judicial Review The High Court can review decisions of inferior (lower) courts, public bodies and other bodies to ensure that the decision making process has been lawful On Appeal Against Right To Rent Scheme Is Dismissed
The appeal taken to the High Court by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and a trade association against the previous ruling has at last reached a verdict which was published on April 21st.
The verdict stated that by no means the scheme is the sole reason for discrimination against tenants when deciding who to let ‘homes’ to.
Previously in February 2019 after a four day hearing, The Hon Mr. Justice Martin Spencer ruled that the Right to Rent scheme did cause landlords not to award tenancies because of ethnicity and /or nationality, and that the Secretary of State was indeed responsible for discrimination; the government said it would appeal against the ruling.
In January 2020 Priti Patel, the Secretary of State, during the hearing appealed against the previous ruling on six grounds, which included the JCWI’s case was centred on the mystery shopping exercises which were examined in fine detail during the appeal process, and concerns were expressed over how the content was presented.
The verdict -LORD JUSTICE HICKINBOTTOM
“Despite the criticisms made on behalf of the Secretary of State and my observations above, on the basis of all the evidence, I am satisfied that, as a result of the Scheme, some landlords do discriminate against potential tenants who do not have British passports, and particularly those who have neither such passports nor ethnically-British attributes such as name. By “as a result of the Scheme”, I mean that, but for the Scheme, the level of discrimination would be less. Almost all of the evidence – notably the evidence from mystery shopping exercises and surveys – points clearly in that direction.”
Even though the ruling does acknowledge its concerns over discrimination, the scheme however was deemed to be lawful and does not cause unlawful discrimination.
LORD JUSTICE HICKINBOTTOM –
“This legislative scheme has a legitimate policy purpose. It is consistent with the 2002 Directive. It preserves remedies under the Equality Act 2010. It was fully debated and consulted on in all relevant respects, including discrimination, before being brought into effect. It is well-established, indeed essential, that a margin of appreciation or judgment should be accorded to the legislature of states in this sort of case. That is why such a measure ordinarily must be shown, in such a context, to be “manifestly without reasonable foundation”, before the courts will interfere.”
During lockdown any ongoing processes for tenancy renewals will still involve Right to Rent checks and once lockdown restrictions are lifted agents and landlords must carry on as before the restrictions.