The government’s controversial Right to Rent policy, which has meant landlords acting as immigration officers, has systematically failed to achieve its objectives, according to David Bolt, who is the independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. Landlords and associations connected to the rental industry slammed the policy as soon as it was announced, and now their criticisms have been backed up in a report recently published concerning the scheme.

Under the scheme, landlords have to check that potential tenants have the right to rent in the UK. This means checking their passport or immigration status. Rather than fall foul of the regulations, many landlords have been reluctant to have tenants who do not hold a UK passport. They are not qualified to spot if a passport is bogus or if a tenant does not have the legal right to live in the UK. So, rightly, they are playing it safe when it comes to choosing tenants.

Now, in the foreword to a report published about the scheme, Mr Bolt says the policy has not proved its worth as a way of encouraging immigration compliance. He said the Home Office is not co-ordinating or effectively measuring its use and doing very little to meet stakeholders’ concerns. The report also highlights concerns raised by the National Landlords Association, among others, and the Landlords’ Consultative Panel.

In his four recommendations of action, Mr Bolt says a SMART Action Plan should be set up so that those departments within the Home Office which need to understand these Right to Rent measures are properly briefed and trained, so that the measures work efficiently and effectively. He goes on to recommend that the Home Office works with other departments in central government, local authorities, police and other agencies to produce an strategy for deploying Right to Rent measures throughout England. He also points out that the success of the legislation relies on members of the public rather than the authorities and suggested a Right to Rent Consultative Panel is set up. Members of the Landlords’ Consultative Panel and other parties concerned with migrants’ interests and rights would be invited to join. This panel’s remit would include finding ways to tackle any concerns and issues regarding the Right to Rent measures, and how to monitor and evaluate them.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and various trade bodies, including the RLA, are seeking a judicial review of the policy. JCWI legal policy director, Chai Patel, called it a ‘disgraceful’ situation that the scheme has not been monitored properly by the Home Office. He said it was not surprising that the Home Office has refused to let groups which represent migrant people and ethnic minorities who are affected by the scheme be part of its consultative panel. He said they will carry on challenging the policy within the judicial system until the mess of forcing landlords to step in as immigration officers is ended. Now this latest report criticising the scheme has been published, steps may be taken to set up a policy which works for all parties.

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