Right to Rent labelled a farce by RLA. A new legal case has brought the already controversial scheme for Right to Rent into further disrepute. Last month, an existing High Court judgement ruled that the scheme was unlawful on grounds of discrimination.
The High Court ruled on 1st March that the scheme had breached human rights, as dictated by the European Convention, on the grounds that the scheme discriminated against British ethnic minorities and non-UK nationals when agents and landlords made letting decisions.
Mr Justice Spencer ruled that the measure has a disproportionately discriminatory impact, and he assumed that the legislators who voted for the scheme to be put in place would be shocked to learn of the discriminatory nature of the scheme.
The scheme was originally designed to prevent non-UK residents with no right to reside within the UK from renting accommodation, through diligence checks from letting agents or landlords. However, the scheme has now been involved in this new and different legal case on discrimination grounds.
In circumstances where the Home Office advises a landlord that their existing tenant is without a right to reside or the tenant’s right to reside has expired, the Home Office will deliver a formal notice which forms the foundation of a claim for possession by the landlord through the courts.
However, in a new judgement by the High Court, it was ruled that this system is in breach of the Equality Act, as it constitutes direct discrimination on the grounds of nationality.
The most recent court case was the Secretary of State v R (Goloshvili), a non-UK national born in Georgia. According to the RLA (Residential Landlord’s Association), landlords who are forced to follow the notice could be at risk of civil claims against them, as well as being charged for breaking the law. The Act’s wording ensures, however, that the Home Secretary could not be prosecuted.
The new rulings give existing tenants without the right to reside in Britain a legitimate defence against any petition to evict them. In addition to this, they could take an injunction out which would prevent eviction and potentially any claims for damages.
Policy Director for RLA, David Smith, has stated that the new ruling has made the Right to Rent scheme a farce that puts landlords into a position where by acting on direct instructions from the Home Office, they will be at risk of breaching equality laws.
As the High Court has ruled that discrimination is part and parcel of the Right to Rent system, it is time that the policy is dismissed altogether.
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