The immigration hostile environment: high court rules that right to rent checks breach human rights

By Oshin Shahiean, managing partner at OTS Solicitors  
 
top London immigration solicitors and Immigration charities were delighted to learn of the High Court ruling that last week decided the Home Office hostile environment rules on right to rent checks are discriminatory and breach human rights.
 
The Home Office introduced the right to rent checks as part of its hostile environment policy aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties in England. The intention behind the hostile environment policy is to make life for illegal migrants and over stayers so difficult that remaining in the UK is not an attractive option.
 
Campaigners against the hostile environment and in particular the right to rent checks claimed that the checks were unfair on private landlords. They said property owners, who are not trained UK Visas and Immigration officials experienced in checking Immigration paperwork, should not be policing the Home Office hostile environment policy. Equally, campaigners argued that the right to rent checks are unfair on genuine migrant tenants. There was clear evidence to show that the right to rent checks were putting property owners off from renting to anyone perceived to be foreign and therefore generating extra hassle and paperwork for the property owner.
 
How can OTS Solicitors help? 
 
OTS Solicitors are specialist London immigration solicitors who are experts in applying for Immigration visas, extending visas or applying for visa transfers to a different visa category. The firm is recommended for Immigration law in the legal directory, Legal 500.
 
If you need advice on your visa options or are at risk of becoming an overstayer or your visa has expired please call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 
The hostile environment and the right to rent scheme
 
top London immigration solicitors advise that the right to rent scheme, which requires landlords to check the Immigration status of tenants, was introduced in England as part of the hostile environment policy in the 2014 Immigration Act.
 
The right to rent scheme requires landlords to carry out checks on prospective tenants, for example, looking at their passport or visa to ensure that the potential tenant has a right to be in the UK and consequently a “right to rent”.
 
The best London immigration solicitors might have thought that the right to rent checks were draconian in nature and off putting to tenants. However, from a landlord’s perspective, they made renting a property a potentially perilous job. That is because failure to carry out the right to rent checks is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum prison term of five years or an unlimited fine.
 
The High Court decision on the hostile environment policy and right to rent
 
The High Court decided in the case of R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 452 (Admin) that the Home Office right to rent scheme causes racial discrimination and is in breach of the European Convention on human rights.
 
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants brought the court application and presented evidence of how the right to rent scheme is discriminatory. A criticism made of the Home Office was that the government department had not tested or monitored the right to rent scheme for discrimination.
 
The applicants showed by providing evidence from a “mystery shopper” experiment that whilst there was no racial discrimination if a potential tenant had a British passport, there was racial discrimination if a potential tenant sounded foreign or did not have a British passport. The Home Office laid the blame at the door of landlords, not the right to rent checks. The High Court judge disagreed with the Home Office and held that it was the hostile environment policy of right to rent checks that was creating the discrimination by landlords against some classes of potential tenant.
 
The High Court judge declared the right to rent scheme incompatible with the human rights Act 1998 and declared that extending the right to rent scheme from England to the rest of the UK would be irrational and unlawful.
 
The High Court judge said the right to rent scheme had “little or no effect” on the Home Office aim of controlling Immigration and even if it the court had found that the checks controlled Immigration, the benefits would be “significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect”.
 
The best London immigration solicitors and the Residential landlords Association welcomed the court decision. The Home Office said it was disappointed by the court decision. The Home Office has been granted permission to appeal the decision.
 
The future of the Immigration hostile environment 
 
The case of R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 452 (Admin) is an exciting development for migrants and the top London immigration solicitors. That is because of the implications of the decision on other areas of the Home Office hostile environment policy.
 
For example, if the High Court has ruled that right to rent checks are discriminatory, what is there to distinguish between the discrimination suffered by potential tenants with the discrimination faced by employees who are subject to hostile environment right to work checks?  After all, employers face similar penalties if they do not carry out right to work checks as property owners’ face with the right to rent check. The top London immigration solicitors see the High Court case as likely to be appealed by the Home Office to the court of appeal as otherwise charities and Immigration bodies are likely to launch similar challenges to other aspects of the Home Office hostile environment policy.
 
How can OTS Solicitors help? 
 
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration law matters and are recommended for Immigration law in the leading law directory, Legal 500. The firm have Law Society accredited solicitors’ status as trusted specialists in Immigration law
 
For advice on your Immigration status or for help with applying to extend or renew a visa or advice on a late visa applications or your options if you are an overstayer, please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help
 

Categories: 

Relevant People: 

For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

 

We are one of the UK’s top firms for immigration solicitors and civil liberties lawyers. We can advise on a broad range of Immigration issues including Appeals and Refusals, Judicial Reviews, Spouse Visas, Student Visas, Work Permit Visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, EEA Applications, asylum and human rights, British Citizenship, All types of visas, Business Immigration Visas, Entrepreneur Visas and Investor Visas.

Our top immigration solicitors and lawyers are here to assist you.

 

Disclaimer: The information and comments on this page/site is made available free of charge and for educational and information purposes only. The information and comments do not amount to and are not intended to be adopted as legal advice to any individual or company. The use of this site should not be a substitute for specific legal advice, which we ask you to see our contact page or call our solicitors on 0203 959 9123.

By using this site you understand that there is no solicitor and client relationship between you/your company and the site owners or the firm. We make every effort to keep the published articles up-to-date and accurate, however the law changes very rapidly and the older the articles on this site, the more likely that the views in it have changed with the development of the law.