Close to half – 44 per cent – of UK landlords admit that they aren’t likely to let their properties to tenants that don’t hold a British passport, according to recent data from the Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA).
This figure has increased from 42 per cent which was recorded in 2017 by the RLA and comes as the High Court has started a judicial review of the Right to Rent scheme, which was made law in 2016, as part of a ‘hostile environment’ strategy to tackle illegal immigrants when current Prime Minister Theresa May was then Home Secretary.
The research also revealed that over half (53 per cent) of UK landlords are less likely to let their properties to tenants with limited time to remain in the country, which has also increased from 49 per cent in 2017, according to the recent RLA data. One of the key reasons for this is that landlords are worried about making a mistake in the Right to Rent process.
Further, 20 per cent of UK landlords stated they would be less likely to let their properties to EU tenants or EEA nationals, since the growing uncertainty over the final Brexit deal. This has increased from 17 per cent recorded by the RLA data in 2017.
While much of the concern appears to have arisen as a result of the Right to Rent legislation, the research also revealed that 14 per cent of UK landlords appear to be unaware of criminal sanctions if they miscarry their responsibilities under the Right to Rent legislation.
The RLA has intervened in a recent Judicial Review led by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and both organisations have argued that the government’s Right to Rent policy is discriminating for foreign nationals and even more so for those who find it difficult to prove their right to remain in the UK.
The RLA have called for the Right to Rent policy to be removed completely, due to the discriminating nature for those tenants who struggle to prove their right to remain in the UK and for foreign-born UK nationals who hold documents that are unfamiliar to many UK landlords who are required to check them to effectively manage their properties.
The organisation has also called for clearer and better guidance for UK landlords to be issued from the government. They believe that this will better enable landlords to feel more secure about letting their properties to foreign tenants, foreign-born UK tenants and UK tenants that don’t own or are struggling to obtain the correct documents; especially if there is a no-deal Brexit in 2019.
As more UK landlords are uneasy and concerned about letting their properties to foreign tenants due to Right to Rent, David Smith, policy director for the RLA commented on the recent data: “The Right to Rent is creating a hostile environment for those who are legitimately in the UK but may have documentation that is not easy to understand for landlords.
“It creates needless friction between landlords and tenants. Landlords cannot be blamed for taking a cautious approach as they are not immigration officers. It is a policy that clearly leads to discrimination against certain groups and needs to be brought to an end. Despite promises from the Home Office little progress has been made and this is reflected in the figures.
“Also, the government has so far failed to provide any single document providing clear advice to landlords about the rights of EU nationals to rent property in the event of a no deal Brexit. It is leaving many with a sense of frustration as they do not know if they should renew their tenancies and create new ones.”
In the second quarter of 2017, 41 per cent of the foreign-born population in the UK were dependent upon the private rental sector to provide their accommodation, compared to 15 per cent of the UK-born population, according to data found by Oxford Academics at The Migration Observatory.
Those migrants who had been in the UK for five years or less were also nearly twice as likely as the UK-born populus to be renters rather than homeowners, as 80 per cent of this population were found to have been living in private rented accommodation in the second quarter of 2017.
With higher numbers depending on the UK’s private rental sector landlords for their accommodation and as the Brexit process still doesn’t seem to be reaching an agreement between the EU and the UK, many private sector landlords and foreign tenants could find themselves caught up in the government red tape of Right to Rent.