A key plank of Theresa May’s Hostile Environment immigration policy has been declared unlawful in a damning ruling handed down by Mr Justice Spencer at the High Court today. 

The Right to Rent scheme requires private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants and potential tenants and can result in them facing unlimited fines or even a prison sentence for renting to undocumented migrants.  

JCWI has long warned that these measures increase discrimination for people of colour, people with accents and people with foreign names who will be asked to prove their immigration status even if they've lived here their whole lives.  

That’s why we took the Government to court and asked Sajid Javid to justify his and Theresa May’s reckless policy.  

The Court declared the scheme unlawful – ruling that it causes unacceptable racial discrimination.  

Mr Justice Spencer found that: 

  • Requiring landlords to check immigration status caused racial discrimination against anyone without a British passport and against ethnic minorities; 
  • The Government had failed to show that the checks had any actual effect on encouraging undocumented migrants to leave the country. 

The Judge also said 

It is my view that the Scheme introduced by the Government does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not,” said Mr Justice Spencer. 

The Government’s Hostile Environment policies, designed to drive undocumented migrants out of the UK, were widely recognised to be the root cause of the discrimination and miscarriages of justice suffered by the Windrush generation. Like them, British ethnic minorities and foreign nationals seeking homes have now been found to be at risk of racism as a direct result of Government policy. 

The Right to Rent scheme must be scrapped immediately. 

What’s more, we know that this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Layers of discrimination exist in all aspects of the “hostile environment” and this judgement shows exactly why it must be dismantled.