The High Court has ruled that using landlords as immigration officers breaches human rights law

Good luck. Image: Getty.

The Right to Rent was bad for landlords and tenants alike, write the Residential Landlords Association.

On Friday, the High Court ruled that the government’s Right to Rent scheme, a key part of its “hostile environment” approach to illegal immigration, breaches human rights law.

Under the Right to Rent private landlords have, for the past few years, been responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants – with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK.  Academics at Oxford University suggest that the foreign-born population is almost three times as likely to be in the private rental sector compared to the UK-born population.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which has opposed the policy from its very inception, joined with Liberty to intervene in a case brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), to have the policy declared as incompatible with human rights law. The grounds were that it was leading to discrimination against non-UK nationals who might be in the country legitimately and British ethnic minorities.

Such concerns were highlighted starkly in recent research by the RLA which found that the fear of getting things wrong led to 44 per cent of private landlords being less likely to rent to those without a British passport. It found also that 53 per cent of landlords were less likely to rent to those with limited time to remain in the UK, whilst 20 per cent said that they were less likely to consider letting property to EU or EEA nationals. Similar findings have been found by the JCWI. Significantly, during the course of the case government research emerged which confirmed a significant proportion of landlords were unwilling to rent to people without British passports.


Delivering his verdict in the High Court today, Mr Justice Martin Spencer ruled that the scheme breached the European Convention on Human Rights on the basis that it led to discrimination against non-UK nationals with the right to rent and British ethnic minorities.

In a damming verdict, Mr Justice Spencer concluded that discrimination by landlords was taking place “because of the scheme.” He went on to state that “the government’s own evaluation failed to consider discrimination on grounds of nationality at all, only on grounds of ethnicity”.

The judge continued that the Right to Rent “does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not”, describing such discrimination by landlords a being “logical and wholly predicable” when faced with potential sanctions and penalties for getting things wrong.

The ruling comes following a report published last year by David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, which concluded that the Right to Rent has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance” and that the Home Office was “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders”.

The RLA has written to the Home Secretary seeking an urgent meeting and is calling on the Government to accept the decision and scrap the Right to Rent entirely.

Landlords should not be used as untrained border police, papering over cracks in the existing border force regime. Ministers should scrap what is a bad policy and consider what else can be done to sensibly manage migration without causing unnecessary friction between tenants and landlords.

John Stewart is policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association. It tweets @RLA_News.

 
 
 
 

There isn’t a war on the motorist. We should start one

These bloody people. Image: Getty.

When should you use the horn on a car? It’s not, and anyone who has been on a road in the UK in living memory will be surprised to hear this, when you are inconvenienced by traffic flow. Nor is it when you are annoyed that you have been very slightly inconvenienced by another driver refusing to break the law in a manner that is objectively dangerous, but which you perceive to be to your advantage.

According to the Highway Code:

“A horn should only be used when warning someone of any danger due to another vehicle or any other kind of danger.”

Let’s be frank: neither you nor I nor anyone we have ever met has ever heard a horn used in such a manner. Even those of us who live in or near places where horns perpetually ring out due to the entitled sociopathy of most drivers. Especially those of us who live in or near such places.

Several roads I frequently find myself pushing a pram up and down in north London are two way traffic, but allow parking on both sides. This being London that means that, in practice, they’re single track road which cars can enter from both ends.

And this being London that means, in practice, that on multiple occasions every day, men – it is literally always men – glower at each other from behind the steering wheels of needlessly big cars, banging their horns in fury that circumstances have, usually through the fault of neither of them, meant they are facing each other on a de facto single track road and now one of them is going to have to reverse for a metre or so.

This, of course, is an unacceptable surrender as far as the drivers’ ego is concerned, and a stalemate seemingly as protracted as the cold war and certainly nosier usually emerges. Occasionally someone will climb out of their beloved vehicle and shout and their opponent in person, which at least has the advantages of being quieter.

I mentioned all this to a friend recently, who suggested that maybe use of car horns should be formally restricted in certain circumstances.

Ha ha ha. Hah.

The Highway Code goes on to say -

“It is illegal to use a horn on a moving vehicle on a restricted road, a road that has street lights and a 30 mph limit, between the times of 11:30 p.m. and 07:00 a.m.”

Is there any UK legal provision more absolutely and comprehensively ignored by those to whom it applies? It might as well not be there. And you can bet that every single person who flouts it considers themselves law abiding. Rather than the perpetual criminal that they in point of fact are.


In the 25 years since I learned to drive I have used a car horn exactly no times, despite having lived in London for more than 20 of them. This is because I have never had occasion to use it appropriately. Neither has anyone else, of course, they’ve just used it inappropriately. Repeatedly.

So here’s my proposal for massively improving all UK  suburban and urban environments at a stroke: ban horns in all new cars and introduce massive, punitive, crippling, life-destroying fines for people caught using them on their old one.

There has never been a war on motorists, despite the persecution fantasies of the kind of middle aged man who thinks owning a book by Jeremy Clarkson is a substitute for a personality. There should be. Let’s start one. Now.

Phase 2 will be mandatory life sentences for people who don’t understand that a green traffic light doesn’t automatically mean you have right of way just because you’re in a car.

Do write in with your suggestions for Phase 3.