Sector Responses

JCWI and Call for Evidence

The Joint Council for the Welfare (JCWI) of Immigrants is currently undertaking a pre-litigation investigation in relation to the planned national roll out of the landlord immigration checks scheme in England from 1 February 2016.

We call on all landlords, agents, tenants and lodgers, as well as housing practitioners, charities and local authorities to contribute further evidence of their experiences of the ‘right to rent’ checks. We would like to hear from any who has experience or expertise in the area, or if you think you may be affected in the future.

We are seeking information on:

  • Have you had any experience of right to rent scheme? Or do you have any questions about the rollout on 1 February?
  • How have you prepared for the upcoming rollout of the Right to Rent scheme?
  • As a housing practitioner, charity or local authority, what impact have you noticed on your service users?

If you are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact our policy team on the contact details at the bottom of this page.

The pilot of the scheme has given rise to evidence of discrimination against those who look or sound foreign and are unable to immediately produce a British passport. The Government has rushed through the nationwide rollout, without proper evaluation of the evidence found in our independent evaluation, and even evidence disclosed by their own evaluation.

We urgently need to gather a variety of further evidence about the impact of the pilot on individuals (such as landlords and tenants) and communities, and the capacity of local authorities to implement the provisions.

This information will also contribute to longer term monitoring and evidence gathering about the operation of the nationwide scheme. This will be vital for future litigation.

We have no doubt that this scheme will cause confusion and place a significant burden on landlords. It will also cause real hardship to individuals, in particular to families with young children who already struggle to find accommodation. The impact will be particularly severe in London.

The right to rent scheme is set to be rolled out in England from 1 February 2016.

Background

The Immigration Act 2014 makes it compulsory for private landlords to check the immigration status of all new adult tenants, sub-tenants and lodgers in order to assess whether they have the ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK. The scheme was piloted in the West Midlands from 1 December 2014.

The Home Office stated that the Right to Rent scheme would be thoroughly and transparently evaluated before any decision on a national roll-out takes place. However, in May 2015 David Cameron stated that the scheme is set to be extended across the country, before evaluation was made public.

JCWI, together with partner organisations, conducted an independent evaluation of the scheme, published on 3 September 2015, which found that in the first six months, the ‘right to rent’ checks had resulted in discrimination against people with foreign accents, foreign names and those without British passports. People with complicated immigration status, unclear documents and those who require time to provide relevant documents are less likely to be considered and accepted for a property as a result of the scheme, despite having the ‘right to rent’. There is also evidence that individuals with the ‘right to rent’ have been wrongly refused tenancies. The report, available here, has been welcomed by immigration practitioners, landlords’ groups, politicians and concerned members of the public.

On 17 September the Government published the Immigration Bill 2015, which contains an extension of the provisions to include a criminal sanction. This is despite clear evidence from JCWI’s independent evaluation that the provisions have caused discrimination; do not meet the government’s obligations under the equality duty; and have not met their stated aims. Our findings were a key piece of evidence which opposition parties used to oppose the Bill and the report was the most widely cited piece of evidence used in opposition to the Bill during the second reading on 13 October. To see our briefings on the Immigration Bill 2015, follow this link. The Chartered Institute of Housing estimates that more than 2.5 million people could be subject to immigration checks under these proposals.

Over a month after the publication of the Bill, on 20 October 2015, the Home Office published their published their own evaluation of the scheme. Their report downplays issues of discrimination and fails to adequately address the Government’s obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty (Equality Act 2010). In addition, the Government announced a roll out of the ‘right to rent’ civil penalty scheme, as contained in the Immigration Act 2014, in England from 1 February 2016.

The policy is rushed and the implications have not been adequately addressed. We therefore have serious concerns about the impacts on individuals and communities. In order to monitor the impact of the scheme, please get in touch.

To share your views, or if you have any queries regarding this research, or about the scheme in general, please contact:

Charlotte Peel | Policy Officer | JCWI

115 Old Street |London | EC1V 9RT

Tel: 020 7553 7457

charlotte.peel@jcwi.org.uk

 

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