A UK national charity called the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JWCI) has threatened the UK government with a legal challenge if the Home Office does not end a policy known as “right to rent” which demands that landlords check potential tenants for their immigration status.
The JWCI’s challenge which follows on a February report that argues that “right to rent” has caused ethnic minorities, regardless of whether they are British citizens or not, to be discriminated against in the private housing market. The JCWI noted how because of the policy, landlords said that they were less likely to rent to foreign nationals or someone without a British passport.
In order to prepare for any legal challenge, the JCWI has set up a crowdfund for a legal defense. The week-old fund has accumulated £1,385 in donations by 53 people.
A Controversial Policy
“Right to rent” became law in England in February 2016, and could be implemented in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland at some point in the future. The UK government says that landlords “must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent your residential property in England.” Landlords must check by getting original documents from the tenant such as a passport, a birth certificate, or a certificate from a language training course, and then making a copy of the relevant pages.
Prime Minister Theresa May states that right to rent will create a hostile environment towards illegal immigrants which will encourage them to leave. But landlords are chafing at having to deal with this new regulation as well as the fines which can result from not carrying out the checks. The Guardian states that the 11,300 daily checks costs £4.7 million per year while identifying few illegal immigrants.
The JCWI believes that right to rent traps migrants and limits their ability to contribute to British society. Furthermore, it encourages discriminatory practices like those detailed in the aforementioned report as landlords will just refuse all minorities instead of dealing with the hassle of documents.
No formal lawsuit has been filed yet, but the JCWI has made it clear that they will not back down in this fight.