Government's Right to Rent Scheme incompatible with Human Rights

5th April 2019 Commercial

The High Court has recently ruled that the government’s right to rent scheme is unlawful. What does this mean for landlords going forward and will the rules change?

The right to rent scheme requires landlords to check, before the start of a tenancy, that all tenants over the age of 18 have the right to rent, whilst there are some exceptions (social housing, student accommodation etc,) the majority of private residential landlords are subject to this scheme and are required to comply. The sanctions for failing to carry out the necessary checks include unlimited fines and even a prison sentence.

The court’s ruling suggested that forcing landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants caused racial discrimination against ethnic minorities and anyone that didn’t hold a British passport.

Whilst the intention of the policy appears to have been to encourage undocumented migrants to leave the county, in practise the policy seems only to have encouraged landlords to inadvertently discriminate.

Despite calls for the scheme to be withdrawn, the government has the right to appeal and is understood to be carefully considering the judge’s comments. To date the scheme remains in place and landlords are expected to check all tenants have the right to rent, not just those that are believed not to be British citizens.


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Claire Brierley is an Associate Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Commercial Litigation department

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