Discrimination Against Tenants Through Right to Rent

‘Right to Rent’ checks lead to discrimination against BME tenants, according to a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) conducted a ‘mystery shopper’ test in order to discern whether a potential tenant with a British BME (black and minority ethnic) background, without a passport, enquiring about a property would be more likely to be rejected by a landlord than a British applicant with a passport. It found that those without a passport were 26 per cent more likely to be turned down.

The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme, put in place in February last year, forces landlords to conduct immigration checks on their tenants. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is crowdfunding for a legal challenge to the scheme on the basis that it encourages discrimination.

42 per cent of landlords surveyed also said that as a result of the scheme they would be less likely to rent to someone without a British passport. 51 per cent said the scheme would make them less inclined to let to foreign nationals.

JCWI has written to the Home Office, calling for a full evaluation of the effects of the scheme before it is rolled out across the country.

Chief executive of JCWI, Saira Grant, said: ‘In the face of clear evidence of discrimination under Right to Rent, the government must show it is not acting illegally before it presses ahead with a rollout to the rest of the UK. This is a scheme that not only discriminates against BME Britons, foreign nationals and British nationals without passports – it imposes costs on landlords, agents and tenants too. In the absence of any clear plan to monitor its effects the government must carry out a thorough review – until then, any extension to other parts of the UK would be premature, dangerous, and potentially illegal.’