THE TORIES’ controversial “right to rent” policy faces a full High Court challenge after a judge ruled today that there was an arguable case that it causes landlords to discriminate against foreign nationals.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) brought a judicial review against part of the Home Office’s much-criticised “hostile environment” legislation which requires landlords to check potential tenants’ right to stay in Britain.
Research by the JCWI found that 42 per cent of landlords said they were less likely to consider renting to people without a British passport, rising to 48 per cent when they were asked to consider potential criminal penalties.
Phillippa Kaufmann QC, for the JCWI, said the scheme, under which landlords can face fines or even prison, “creates a number of complicated hurdles landlords have to go through in order to check whether or not a particular applicant has a right to rent.”
Ms Kaufmann said it was therefore “to be rationally expected” that landlords were “taking the path of least resistance” by letting only to individuals “whose right to rent is readily ascertained,” for example by producing a British passport.
She added that the JCWI was bringing a challenge against “the entire scheme” contained in the Immigration Act 2014.
The JCWI is also challenging Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s refusal to conduct a further evaluation of the scheme before rolling it out beyond England.
Mr Justice Jay granted permission for judicial review, but said he had been only “just about persuaded” to grant permission.
After the hearing, JCWI chief executive Satbir Singh told the Star: “We’re very pleased that the High Court has recognised the value in hearing our case.”
But he added that it was “a shame that, despite the wealth of evidence that has been produced by the JCWI, Shelter and the [Residential Landlords Association], we had to come to court.”
Meanwhile, Mr Javid and Home Office head Glyn Williams were grilled by MPs in the human rights committee today over members of the Windrush generation being unlawfully detained pending wrongful deportation.
Mr Javid, who replaced Amber Rudd when she resigned over the scandal, said in a letter to the committee that “intensive work” was under way to determine exactly how many people were deported.
Committee chair Harriet Harman condemned Home Office practices by saying: “It’s not just rigidity, it’s perverse.
“The decision to detain flies in the face of all the evidence — arriving in the country as a child, continuous residence, letters from relatives and MPs.”
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