The Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes has issued a written ministerial statement in response to the High Court decision in the case of the JCWI against the Secretary of State.
The High Court held that the Right to Rent scheme was unlawful as it inevitably led to unlawful discrimination on the part of landlords. More information on the decision and the case is available here.
Ms Nokes emphasised that the law was and remains absolutely clear that discriminatory treatment on the part of landlords or agents carrying out the RtR checks is unlawful. The Code of Practice issued by the government also sets out what is expected of Landlords when carrying out RtR checks.
The RtR policy was trialled in the West Midlands and following a government evaluation the Home Office found there was no systematic discrimination on the basis of race. However, it is important to note here that prior to the implementation of the RtR policy the Home Office issued a memorandum recognising that the policy could breach Art.8 rights (see paragraph 11 of the High Court case).
Ms Nokes finds the High Court decision disappointing and stresses that despite the decision landlords and agents are still obliged to carry out the RtR checks. The Home Office has been granted permission to appeal and it appears they intend to do so on “all aspects of the judgment.”
The government appears to be looking at options for a further evaluation of the operation of the policy. Steps will be taken to develop further mechanisms to monitor the operation of the policy to provide assurances about its impact. Unfortunately, the statement provides no details on what mechanisms will be implemented or when.
The RtR Consultative Panel is scheduled to meet in April to look at the operation of the policy and the guidance that is issued to landlords and agents. Ms Nokes’ statement concludes with a government commitment to tackling discrimination and having an immigration system which provides control.
It appears that despite the High Court decision the government is still refusing to accept any criticism of the scheme and will no doubt strongly defend it before the Court of Appeal.