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Right to rent leads to racial profiling

A trial scheme to force landlords to evict tenants who no longer have the right to live in the UK has resulted in racial profiling and discrimination, a study by charity The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants found.
The government is trialling the “Right to Rent” policy in the West Midlands, with the intention of extending it to apply nationwide in due course. However, the charity found that it had had the effect of discouraging some landlords from renting a room to anyone who looked foreign.
Such discrimination is illegal, albeit difficult to prove. Since landlords face a £3,000 fine under the scheme if they provide a room to someone who is not permitted to live in the country, there is evidence that some have simply chosen the easy way out. The JCWI said that it had learned of at least 17 cases of discrimination as a result of the new law.
Another unintended consequence was that the additional costs of checking the immigration status of prospective tenants has been passed on to tenants, making renting a room more expensive. This arguably represents a form of indirect discrimination, since tenants who appear to be native Brits are less likely to have to pay for these costs.
The JCWI has called for Parliament to debate the effects of the trial further, before rolling it out nationally. Saira Grant, legal and policy director for the JCWI, commented, “Our evaluation shows direct discrimination by landlords against those legally here, but with complicated or unclear immigration status. These checks are leading to increased racial profiling.” A spokesperson for the Home Office replied that the checks were not intended to disadvantage anyone with a legal right to live in the UK, and that landlords who discriminated against certain tenants would face legal consequences.
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