A challenge to the government’s Right to Rent scheme by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has launched a crowd-funding scheme, as the government proposes to roll out Right to Rent to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Under Right to Rent, landlords must check a prospective tenant has the right to be in the UK, including inspecting official documents such as passports and visas.
JCWI says it has begun pre-action correspondence to ensure that the scheme is not rolled out across the UK without a full evaluation of discrimination under the scheme – and whether or not the scheme is working.
Chief executive of JCWI, Saira Grant, said:
“In the face of clear evidence of discrimination under Right to Rent, the government must show it is not acting illegally before it presses ahead with a rollout to the rest of the UK.
“This is a scheme that not only discriminates against BME British citizens, foreign nationals and British nationals without passports, it imposes costs on landlords, agents and tenants, too.”
The JCWI is calling for a government review of Right to Rent, saying that without this, a roll out of the scheme to other parts of the UK “would be premature, dangerous, and potentially illegal”.
The Right to Rent scheme was launched in England in 2016 – according to the JCWI, the scheme is now due to be rolled out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
However, it is alleged that the Home Office has refused to provide a definite time frame for this, raising concern that it might happen “at very short notice” to landlords and tenants.
In a statement, the JCWI said:
“Once the decision is announced, it could be implemented fairly rapidly, and we must be prepared to act.
“We have already done the bulk of the work in gathering evidence of discrimination, but we need to do more over the coming weeks.”
A report released earlier in 2017 by the JCWI finds the scheme has led to foreign nationals being discriminated against by landlords.
The report also says that a “mystery shopping” exercise suggested that black and minority ethnic (BME) British citizens without a passport were more likely to be discriminated against under Right to Rent.
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