Right to Rent challenged
So the High Court has allowed the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants to seek a judicial review against the government on the lawfulness of the ‘Right to Rent’ legislation.
For those readers, perhaps new to landlord and tenant law, Right to Rent is the measures introduced by the recent Immigration Acts to make landlords vet the immigration status of their tenants at the start and (in some cases) throughout the life of the tenancy.
People not having the ‘Right to Rent’ are being shunned as prospective tenants, and even evicted without a court order as existing tenants, should the Home Office alert the landlord upon pain of prosecution to evict someone they are renting to, who doesn’t satisfy the legal requirements.
As is the case with so many new schemes of this kind, a pilot was launched a couple of years back in five local authority districts in the Midlands. But unlike the normal situation with pilots, the government rolled this scheme out at the end of the six-month trial before even assessing the effects or problems in practice, the end of the pilot corresponding directly with the timing of the last general election.
A clear indicator that government did not give a tinker’s cuss what the results were and that the whole concept was just another component of the ‘Hostile Environment’ approach that has recently thrown up problems for Commonwealth citizens, of the so-named ‘Windrush generation’ and which cost the Home Secretary her job in the wake of public outrage.
The results of the rollout were predictable to anyone with even a modicum of common sense. From information provided by the JCWI and the Residential Landlord’s Association – more than half of landlord’s surveyed said they would not let to people with non-EU passports. And I’ll bet that’s a conservative figure.
I doubt most people would argue with that stance either, given the complexity of immigration law and the criminal penalties for getting it wrong, not to mention the track record of the Home Office immigration department, who frequently display staggering incompetence.
Ask any homelessness case worker trying to deal with this legendarily appalling service (that’s if you can even get through on the phone) and their all too familiar tendency to decide that a person does not have immigration status, only to reverse their decision a year later, without so much as an apology, having wrecked that individual’s life and driven them into poverty and homelessness.
I could bore you for hours with countless real-life cases.
Take a look from where I see things
But given what I do for a living, I see a different side altogether, which is rarely reported on, namely where these people end up living, for want of more stable accommodation.
The worst overcrowding you see in the Private Rented Sector, the most dangerous properties, in terms of fire hazards and the worst types of criminal landlords tend to involve accommodation occupied by people from abroad, both documented and undocumented migrants.
Opposite ends of the scale
The kinds of landlords renting out these slums are criminals, often organised and with no regard for laws of any kind, let alone the Right to Rent or patchy local authority enforcement.
So while the ordinary landlords are understandably erring on the side of caution these other jokers are rubbing their hands with glee, as their income increases exponentially, providing housing for people with nowhere else to go.
Three-bed family homes being rented out to 15 people, converting the rental income (in London) from £1,800-£2,000 per month to between £4,000 and £5,000 is very common.
The Right to Rent doesn’t drive down immigration, it drives up criminal activity in the PRS and allows that landlord to buy his third Merc.
Immigrant communities are no different anywhere in the world
People in immigrant communities are often in the lowest paid work as they struggle to get a foothold in the host country. This is not only the case in Britain but is the lot of immigrants all over the world.
Many are now excluded from assistance that the rest of us take for granted, such as housing advice and homelessness.
They are often ignorant of renting law in the UK, as I would be of renting law in Cairo or Cape Town, and have that ignorance exploited by their slumlords who pull the wool over their eyes on their rights or threaten to report them to police and Home Office should they raise any problems, even if they are entitled to be here.
In many countries of origin the authorities are the last people you would go to if you had a problem and if you have ever been out on raids with Border and Immigration officers, as I have on countless occasions, it does nothing to assuage their fears, black-clad para-military combat gear, radio controlled earpieces and portable fingerprint checkers being de-rigeur.
Language is also often a barrier, causing many to become locked into their ex-pat communities where they get support, understanding and even employment.
Safer Renting tries to help them
When my team ‘Safer Renting’, protects and sometimes relocates these people from their dreadful living circumstances we often find that after a short time they end up back in that circuit – because outside of their familiar support networks they feel isolated and unsupported.
Better the devil you know so to speak.
I saw the same thing when I worked in night shelters. When we would find accommodation for rough sleepers, only to find that without help or support the isolation catapulted them back to familiar, though unwanted lifestyles.
This is also the case for people rescued from people traffickers through the National Referral Mechanism and relocated in safe houses by the National Crime Agency. Where they are promptly forgotten about.
What makes me shake my head in astonishment is the government’s two-faced reminder to landlords to be mindful of the Equality Act 2010 and their duty not to discriminate against anyone on the grounds race or culture – when this whole legislation itself is pure discrimination.
So good luck to the JCWI and their legal challenge to this gob-smackingly inept and racist law, worthy more of Enoch Powell or Oswald Mosley than a multi-cultural, European country in the 21st century.