The government plans to expand its ‘Right to Rent’ scheme on 1 December to include criminal sentences - including up to 5 years' jail - for landlords who rent properties to individuals without the legal right to remain in the UK.
The initial law, released throughout England in February, intended to ensure that landlords rented properties only to individuals with a legal right to be here.
However, independent research shows that these laws lead to discriminatory leasing by landlords who fear the repercussions of leasing to individuals who may or may not have legal status in the UK. Landlords are frustrated that they, who are not trained immigration agents, are given the responsibility of scrutinising potential tenants’ documents to assess whether they are legal in the UK.
In the wake of the laws, 43% of landlords surveyed by the Residential Landlords Association stated that they were less likely to rent to individuals without British passports. Others admitted avoiding leasing to those who appeared ‘foreign’ altogether out of fear of the criminal sanctions.
Despite evidence that these policies encourage discrimination, the government’s plan to harden penalties for landlords remains in place.