Right To Rent stays after court rules against campaigners

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the government’s controversial Right To Rent scheme, overturning a decision reached last year by the High Court.

In early 2019 the High Court found that the Right To Rent legislation was unlawful and racially discriminatory because it caused agents and landlords to discriminate against British citizens with ethnic minorities and against foreign nationals.

The scheme was introduced in 2015 following a six-month trial in the Midlands.

Under the legislation, agents and landlords must check the immigration status of prospective tenants. An agent or landlord found to have rented to someone without the appropriate immigration status could be fined up to £3,000 and would receive a criminal prosecution.

However, yesterday the government has won an appeal and Right To Rent remains in place.

Appeal Court justices Davis, Henderson and Hickinbottom agreed that the scheme was discriminatory, but found that it did not violate human rights legislation. Now it will be for MPs and the government to decide whether the racial discrimination is ‘greater than envisaged’.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants was the main organisation behind the original High Court case, and Chai Patel, legal policy director for the JCWI, says: “At a time when our lives depend on our ability to stay home at home safely, ethnic minorities and foreign nationals are being forced by the government to face discrimination in finding a safety place for them and their families to live.”

He continues: “The Home Office has always maintained that this racial discrimination wasn’t caused by the scheme. Now we have two court rulings confirming that the government is causing racial discrimination in the housing market against ethnic minority British people, like the Windrush generation.”

However, immigration minister Chris Philp welcomes the decision and says: “As we have made clear throughout, the scheme ensures that only those with a legal right to be in the UK are able to access benefits and services, and discourages people from entering the country unlawfully. This is also a question of fairness to UK citizens and the many people who come to the UK legally who all need to access housing.”

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