A report out today claims foreigners and Britons without passports, particularly from ethnic minorities, are being discriminated against in the lettings sector because of Right to Rent.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says 51 per cent of agents and landlords surveyed say the scheme makes them less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals.
Some 42 per cent say they are less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme. This rises to 48 per cent when explicitly asked to consider the impact of the criminal sanction.
An enquiry from a British Black Minority Ethnic (BME) tenant without a passport was ignored or turned down by 58 per cent of landlords, in a mystery shopping exercise.
The Right to Rent scheme requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and refuse a tenancy to irregular migrants. If they fail to comply with the scheme they face a fine of up to £3,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years.
The scheme creates structural incentives for landlords to discriminate unlawfully against foreigners and ethnic minorities, says the report.
Currently in force in England and poised for imminent roll-out in the devolved regions, the Right To Rent scheme does not contain adequate safeguards against discrimination, adequate mechanisms to monitor discrimination, or any form of redress for victims of discrimination, claims the JCWI .
The organisation is calling on the Government to abandon it and to immediately halt any plans for roll-out.
“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” says Saira Grant, chief executive of JCWI.
Expanding the scheme to devolved nations without taking into account the discrimination it causes would be misguided and unjustifiable, and it is time to stop the scheme before it does any more damage, insists the organisation.
JCWI’s research suggests that landlords and agents who have no wish to discriminate are being forced to do so by the scheme – with people who have a full right to rent a home in the UK being disadvantaged, along with others who should be able to access housing.
Residential Landlords Association chairman Alan Ward says he shares the concern.
“The government’s own figures show the Right to Rent scheme is not working so maybe it is time to scrap it and think again. There are more than 400 acceptable documents proving right to rent from within the EU alone and landlords are making risk-based decisions and only accepting documents that they recognise and have confidence in” Ward adds.