The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme means landlords have to check the immigration status of prospective tenants. Any landlord who is found to have rented to someone who doesn't have the required immigration status will face a fine of up to £3,000 or a criminal sentence.

The Government hasn't considered the concerns of landlords who don't want to become border guards. And like so much else in the Hostile Environment, these rules don't account for the fact that many people won't have access to paperwork, for many reasons. What's more, the 'Right to Rent' scheme causes a real risk of discrimination - the risk that people of colour, and people with foreign-sounding accents or names, will be passed over in favour of other applicants, even if they've lived here their whole lives. That's why we took the Government to court.

Our legal challenge

Checking someone's immigration status is a complex job, and the cost of getting it wrong is high. So it's not surprising that landlords are less inclined to rent to anybody, documented or not, if they've got a foreign-sounding name or if they aren't a British citizen. In effect, the Government has created a strong incentive to discriminate. Our independent research provided evidence of these risks.

We've challenged the Government to justify this reckless policy, which increases racial discrimination in the rental market.

In Spring 2019, we faced the Home Office in the High Court. We won the case, as the High Court agreed that Right to Rent causes racial discrimination, and declared it unlawful. As a result, the Government was forced to halt its plans to roll the scheme out to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  

The Government appealed, so in January 2020 we faced the Home Office in the Court of Appeal.  

The Court of Appeal agreed that the scheme causes racial discrimination. 

Right to Rent: It takes BME people up to twice as long to find a home to rent as a white British person

But the judges stopped short of declaring the scheme unlawful, leaving it to MPs and Government to decide whether the racial discrimination is ‘greater than envisaged’. 

No amount of discrimination is acceptable. 

We are not deterred. It is clear that the scheme causes racial discrimination. We will continue to fight this policy and our next step will be to appeal at the Supreme Court.  

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Are you concerned or have you been affected?

If you're a landlord and you're worried about the Right to Rent scheme, please fill out a short survey here.

If you're a tenant or an advisor and you'd like some guidance on the scheme, download our toolkit here.

If you've faced issues renting a home as a result of the scheme, click here to share your story.