'Right to rent' checks discriminating against asylum seekers

By agency reporter
February 16, 2017

Vulnerable people are being discriminated against as a consequence of a new Government scheme which obliges landlords to check the eligibility of prospective tenants, a new report has revealed.

The scheme, which came into force nationally last February, requires landlords to carry out immigration checks on possible tenants. Those who fail to do so or let to ineligible tenants face prison and fines of thousands of pounds.

Research published  by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has now revealed that the scheme is resulting in landlords discriminating against people who are eligible to rent, especially those without British passports,  including British citizens, in favour of ‘safe options’.  

The report outlines how both refugees and those seeking asylum are among the unintended victims of the scheme.

While refugees have the right to rent, they will not be British passport holders and may struggle to prove their eligibility. For those seeking asylum, the situation is even more complex, with the report noting: “The most vulnerable individuals, such as asylum seekers, stateless persons, and victims of modern day slavery, who would require landlords to do an online check to confirm they have been granted permission to rent, face the greatest barrier of all.”

As part of the research, 150 mystery shopping enquiries from a prospective tenant who asked landlords to conduct an online check were carried out: 85 per cent received no response. The JCWI is calling for the scheme to be abandoned.

The Refugee Council's Director of Advocacy, Dr Lisa Doyle said: "The Government was well warned about the unintended negative consequences of this scheme and now it is seeing the results; with vulnerable people being left to suffer.

"It’s completely unacceptable that refugees and asylum seekers are among the victims of this divisive and ill-conceived scheme. These people were forced from their own homes by war and persecution and came here seeking refuge. It’s our responsibility to provide it, not to encourage landlords to discriminate against them and to marginalise them further."

* Read the JCWI report here

[Ekk/4]

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