Tenants without passports ‘less likely to access homes to rent’

Right-to-RentNearly half of landlords are less likely to rent homes to tenants without a British passport as a result of the immigration tests they have to make, according to a new poll.

A survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) on the impact of the UK government’s Right to Rent scheme which makes landlords legally responsible for ensuring their tenants have a right to rent property in the UK.

This means that for the 17% of British citizens who don’t own a passport, many of whom are likely to be some of the poorest in society who cannot afford one, it is now more difficult to access private rented housing. It is also likely that amongst those seeking rented accommodation the proportion without passports is likely to be higher.

The proportion of landlords less likely to consider letting to people who are currently outside the UK is 51%. With uncertainty still surrounding the status of EU nationals in the UK, 22% of landlords have said that they are less likely to rent property to nationals from the EU or the European Economic Area.

Introduced across England in February last year, the law has yet to be rolled-out across the rest of the UK, although a report earlier this year suggested its introduction in Scotland was “imminent”.

The survey figures show that the decision to introduce criminal sanctions in December 2016  for landlords found to know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that a tenant does not have the right to rent has made landlords even more concerned about renting property to those unable to prove their identity easily.

With landlords concerned about the potential of criminal sanctions if they make a mistake, the RLA is supporting an application for a judicial review of the right to rent policy by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and will be taking part alongside the JCWI as an interested party. It is doing so on the basis that it discriminates against those who cannot easily prove their status, even if they have the right to rent property.

RLA policy director, David Smith, said: “These figures show the damage that the right to rent scheme is causing for those who might have the right to rent property, but cannot easily prove their identity.

“The added threat of criminal sanctions is clearly leading many landlords to become even more cautious about who they rent to.

“This is a dangerous and divisive policy that is causing discrimination. It must be scrapped.”