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Landlords ‘discriminating’ against tenants thanks to Right to Rent

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Landlords are less likely to let properties to ethnic minority Britons due to concerns about the Right to Rent scheme, a new report has found.

The report, by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), found foreigners and British citizens without passports are being discriminated against in the private rental housing market with 51% of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals and 42% less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme.

In a mystery shopping exercise, an enquiry from a British Black Minority Ethnic tenant without a passport was ignored or turned down by 58% of landlords.

Under the scheme landlords are required to check the immigration status of all tenants. If they fail to do so correctly they could face a £3,000 fine or five years in jail. The JWCI is calling for it to be scrapped.

Saira Grant, chief executive, 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.”

Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said it was understandable that landlords were being cautious.

He said: “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.”

Ying Tan, managing director, The Buy to Let Business, backed calls for the scheme to be scrapped.

He said:  “I have voiced my concern over this scheme since it was first launched. It is unfair for landlords to have to shoulder the responsibility of checking immigration status – something which is surely the job of border control – and it is not surprising that many are playing it safe in this way. This government needs to rethink this scheme or we will only see this kind of practice continue.”

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