Right to Rent court case may have major implications for property investors

Right to Rent court case may have major implications for property investors (iStock)

A major concern of landlords in recent years has been the establishment of the government's Right to Rent policy, but the legislation is facing a major legal challenge.

Introduced in 2016, the law placed a duty on landlords to check the eligibility of potential tenants to live in the UK. Those renting out a property to those who are not ineligible could face severe fines or even jail. 

This policy has proved unpopular both among landlords and with bodies such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), with the latter bringing a case to the High Court this week arguing that the legislation is discriminatory and breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. 

According to the JCWI's own research, 51 per cent of landlords said they have become less likely to offer accommodation to non-EU tenants since the legislation was introduced, while 42 per cent were more reluctant to let to people without EU passports - a number that rose by a further six per cent when the penalties for rule breaches were mentioned to them. 

The case is being backed by organisations like the National Landlords' Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords' Association (RLA). A key concern is that landlords are not experts in immigration matters and it is therefore unfair to place such a responsibility on them.  

RLA director of policy David Smith said: "The Windrush scandal has shown that even trained immigration officers can make serious mistakes. This highlights how inappropriate it is to demand that untrained landlords become enforcers of government immigration policy."

If the policy is ruled unlawful, this may be of particular benefit to residential property investors in London, as the more cosmopolitan demographics of the capital mean it is more likely any potential tenant is someone who could be affected by the Right to Rent rules. 

Home Office statistics published last month revealed 405 Right to Rent checks have been made by landlords since the rules were introduced.