The Court of Appeal upheld the Home Office’s Right to Rent scheme, despite judges accepting that it causes racial discrimination.
The scheme requires landlords to verify the immigration status of tenants and prospective tenants. Landlords who fail to oblige with this requirement face up face fines and up to five years imprisonment.
The case was initially brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) last year before the High Court, where the scheme was ruled unlawful on the basis that it had a ‘disproportionately discriminatory effect. against tenants on the basis of ethnicity and nationality.
The judgement was overturned by the Court of Appeal today. The Appeal judges confirmed that because of this scheme, it is harder for black people, ethnic minorities and migrants to rent a home than it is for white British people. The Court however did not accept the Right to Rent scheme was in violation of human rights law. The judges went further to say that matters involving ‘controversial issues of social and economic policy’ are more suitable for determination by Parliament.
Chai Patel, the JCWI’s legal policy director, told the Guardian that the appeal court had upheld the high court’s finding that landlords were discriminating against migrants or people of ethnic minority backgrounds as they sought to adhere to the right to rent legislation. However, the ruling did not conclude that this meant the scheme was in violation of human rights law. ‘The Home Office has always maintained that this racial discrimination wasn’t caused by the scheme. Now we have two court rulings confirming that the government is causing racial discrimination in the housing market against ethnic minority British people, like the Windrush generation,’ Patel said. ‘At a time when our lives depend on our ability to stay at home safely, ethnic minorities and foreign nationals are being forced by the government to face discrimination in finding a safe place for them and their families to live.’
The organisation reported it was preparing to appeal against the ruling at the Supreme Court.