MPs have voted not to exempt landlords from doing Right to Rent checks on EU nationals as the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill passed its third reading in the Commons.
The Liberal Democrats tried unsuccessfully to insert an amendment to exempt landlords from doing the controversial checks on EEA and Swiss nationals after freedom of movement ends and a skills-based points-style immigration system kicks in.
Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine tabled the amendment which attempted to force Home Office Secretary Priti Patel to implement the findings of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review – including a review of all Hostile Environment policies.
She says: “Sadly, the Government rejected our amendments but we’ll keep fighting for a fairer system.”
Jardine had argued that the Right to Rent scheme should be the first part to immediately go as it caused landlords to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity when demanding proof from proposed tenants, and therefore breached their fundamental human rights.
Says Jardine: “The courts have found that the scheme causes racial discrimination in access to housing, yet appallingly Conservative Ministers are refusing to scrap it. We must make clear that racial discrimination has no place in our laws.”
She adds that the Government’s plans to end free movement risks creating a new Windrush Scandal for the millions of EU citizens already living in the UK, who are being forced to apply for ‘Settled Status’, yet the Home Office is refusing to provide physical proof of their rights even for those who get it.
Right to Rent checks will be difficult for landlords going forward as they will have to find proof of this settled status, however any landlord currently found to have rented to someone who doesn’t have the required immigration status will face a fine of up to £3,000 or a criminal sentence.
Meera Chindooroy, NRLA deputy director for campaigns, public affairs & policy, told LandlordZONE: “The NRLA continues to believe that landlords should not be treated as untrained border police. That said, landlords should continue to abide by the law, and we expect the Government to ensure they have all the support they need to carry out the Right to Rent checks in a fair and simple way.”