Rent Scheme violates human rights image

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2016, which created major revisions in the immigration system. The act made it illegal for employers to hire illegal immigrants, enabled the government to freeze the bank accounts and suspend the drivers’ licenses of illegal immigrants and extended the ‘deport first, appeal later’ scheme to be applicable to all migrants.

On the 1st of March 2019, the High Court ruled that the ‘Right To Rent’ scheme, which prevents illegal immigrants from renting properties, violates human rights.  Mr Justice Spencer found that the scheme caused racial discrimination, and failed to have the desired effect of encouraging undocumented migrants to leave the country.

“It is my view that the Scheme introduced by the Government does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not,” he said in his ruling.

The High Court judge added that MPs who voted for the scheme “would be aghast to learn of its discriminatory effect as shown by the evidence”. There is no place for racism in the UK housing market. A petition for the High Court to review the ruling was brought forward by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and Liberty.

The groups heavily criticised the scheme for creating a hostile environment for immigrants and insisted that there was “no place for racism in the UK housing market”. In a statement, the Legal Policy Director of JCWI, Chai Patel, said that Parliament “must act immediately” to scrap the scheme. “We all know that this sort of discrimination, caused by making private individuals into border guards, affects almost every aspect of public life – it has crept into our banks, hospitals, and schools. “Today’s judgement only reveals the tip of the iceberg and demonstrates why the Hostile Environment must be dismantled,” Patel said. We have warned all along that turning landlords into untrained and unwilling border police would lead to the exact form of discrimination the court has found.

Rent Scheme policy has raised concerns as the harm caused  by the hostile environment are:


Increased homelessness resulted from right-to-rent. Local authorities have reported "an increase in families applying for support". The creation of landlords acting as border guards would prevent tenants "from reporting and seeking local authority assistance with bad landlords or unsafe properties". Homeless charity - Crisis raised concerns that the policy offered "the potential for rogue landlords to perform illegal evictions, as there is no judicial oversight of the eviction process


The Migrant Rights Network gave evidence that many tenants were being forced into 'informal' accommodation where they were "vulnerable to exploitation and abuse". The Home Office's own evaluation of the pilot phase of the scheme confirmed these concerns, noting that "the more exploitative end of the sector could increase as a result of the right-to-rent scheme".


.Almost half (42%) of landlords are now less likely to rent to someone without a British passport, which includes 17% of British nationals. Similar numbers said they would be less likely to rent to people who had the right to rent but were on a non-permanent visa or had documents the landlord was unfamiliar with. There is no mechanism for someone who believes they have suffered discrimination from a landlord to report it to the Home Office. They don't want to know.

The problems don't end there. They also affect the homeless - who the government says it is committed to housing - and people on welfare. Half of landlords would also be more reluctant to let properties to benefits claimants or homeless people as a result of the checks. This "highlighted that the discriminatory effect of right-to-rent extended beyond race and affected other vulnerable groups who may not be able to provide the required documents. Research on the right-to-rent scheme by several migrant rights groups found evidence of increased racial discrimination against tenants. In truth, ethnic minority renters in the UK already face racial discrimination, but the policy is set to make it worse


It is clear that the government is not interested in monitoring the scheme, either in terms of performance or unintended outcomes.

Following a meeting with the Home Office last year, JCWI told Bolt that they "remain deeply concerned that no robust or adequate system for monitoring and evaluating the scheme's operation and measuring its success, cost-effectiveness and proportionality has been put in place, nor is there any plan to do so".

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) told inspectors that the stakeholder body set up by the Home Office had no "data gathering or evaluation function" had not met since 2016 and would therefore be unable to properly monitor the scheme

Measuring 'Success'

There is no evidence the policy is succeeding in its stated aim of ensuring people leave the country and in fact there is considerable evidence that it is failing.

Since the introduction of the scheme the number of 'voluntary' returns has not increased. In fact, it has fallen. Over an 18 month period, there were 9,127 users of the government's voluntary returns scheme. Only seven of them cited their inability to rent property as a reason for wishing to leave the UK.

Theresa May's hostile environment has meant a lack of basic rights for human beings in precarious situations. Others have been wrongly denied their rights. It has meant racial discrimination, including against British citizens. It has seen the granting of greater powers to dodgy bosses and landlords. It has brought borders into every aspect of society. It means more work for already overstretch public servants. It means victims of crimes are afraid to report them. It has led to people dying before accessing hospitals. It has installed government surveillance in every aspect of everyday life. And – together with legal aid cuts and over 45,000 new immigration rules since 2010 – it has helped make it impossible for people to sort out their legal situation.

Immigration enforcement's latest business model aims to reduce the 'harm' caused by undocumented migrants; only to find out that it’s not immigrants who are causing harm but the hostile environment itself.