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UK Landlords Law Checking Illegal Migrants "Discriminatory", High Court Rules

CC0 / / UK housing
UK housing - Sputnik International
The UK government "right to rent" scheme was introduced in England in 2016 and aimed to have landlords vet the immigration status of tenants. But the programme was restricted to England after judges said it would be illegal in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales without further scrutiny.

The UK High Court has ruled against a "discriminatory" law preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties. The case was raised by the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Residential Landlords Association.

The Home Offices said it was "disappointed by the High Court ruling, adding that an independent study did not find evidence of systematic discrimination in the right to rent scheme, but aimed instead to curb illegal residencies in the UK.

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A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are disappointed with the judgment and we have been granted permission to appeal, which reflects the important points of law that were considered in the case. In the meantime, we are giving careful consideration to the judge's comments." 

Mr. Justice Spencer issued the ruling, which showed that immigration checks from landlords "caused racial discrimination" for non-UK passport holders and ethnic minorities. The government had also "failed to show that the checks had any actual effect on encouraging undocumented migrants to leave the country," a JCWI press release said on Friday said. 

It is my view that the Scheme introduced by the Government does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not," said Mr Justice Spencer. 

The scheme also had "little to no effect" on controlling immigration and even if it did, it was "significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect", Mr. Spencer said. 

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Responding to the ruling, Alp Mehmet, Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: "This judgment can only encourage those who have no right to be in the UK to stay on." 

"Roughly three-quarters of the public regard illegal immigration as a serious problem and support for the government's policy on the checking of documentation of those who wish to rent accommodation is at a similar level. Mr. Mehmet added. "If landlords have misunderstood the purpose of the policy, then the Home Office should improve their guidance. Meanwhile, the government should now appeal this decision."

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