LONDON, Feb 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A scheme
requiring British landlords to check the immigration status of
prospective tenants discriminates against foreign nationals and
Britons from ethnic minorities, a charity said on Monday.
The Right to Rent scheme, part of wider measures by the
British government to tackle illegal immigration, threatens
landlords and letting agents with a maximum £3,000 fine or up to
five years in prison if they fail to check the passport or
immigration documents of tenants.
A survey by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
(JCWI), a charity campaigning for migrant and refugee rights,
found 51 percent of landlords said they would be less likely to
rent to a foreign national under the scheme.
In a test conducted by JCWI of Britons without passports, an
applicant from an ethnic minority was turned down by 58 percent
of landlords - 14 percent more often than a white British
applicant in the same situation.
Saira Grant, chief executive of JCWI, said the scheme was
clearly discriminatory and there was no evidence that it reduced
"Creating a so-called 'hostile environment' that targets
vulnerable men, women and children is bad enough, implementing a
scheme that traps and discriminates against British citizens is
absurd," Grant said in a statement.
A Home Office spokesperson told the Thomson Reuters
Foundation it had been monitoring the scheme and had found no
evidence of discrimination.
The Right to Rent scheme, introduced in February 2016, aims
to prevent illegal immigrants from establishing a settled life
in the UK, which could slow the process of deportation,
according to the Home Office website.
The scheme, which operates across England, is set to be
extended to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this year.
Stuart McDonald, immigration spokesperson for Scotland's
ruling Scottish National Party, called for an immediate halt to
the "toxic" scheme which he said turned landlords into de facto
McDonald said in a statement that Britain's immigration
minister had failed to provide any evidence of the scheme's
The Home Office spokesperson confirmed it was continuing in
negotiations with the Scottish Parliament and other authorities
to roll out the scheme.
The report said asylum seekers, stateless persons, and
victims of modern day slavery were the worst effected by the
In a test, landlords gave no response to 85 percent of
inquiries from such applicants who require landlords to do an
online check with the Home Office to confirm that they have been
granted permission to rent.
(Reporting by Matthew Ponsford, Editing by Emma Batha.; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.