Landlords have been given new advice on how to complete Right to Rent checks without discriminating against tenants.
The Home Office initiative is, to a greater extent, a response to the political and legal pressure from a Court of Appeal win by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which proved successfully that the scheme had led to discrimination.
The new code of practice, which is still going through a consultative process after being promised last year, applies to residential tenancy agreements starting on 6th April as well as where a repeat check on an existing tenant needs to be carried out after this time, to retain a statutory excuse.
It outlines how landlords should not make assumptions about a person’s right to rent, or their immigration status based on their colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, accent or length of time they have been resident in the UK.
They must not simply check the status of those who they think appear or are likely to be migrants, treat those with a time-limited right to rent more or less favourably, treat those who have access to the Home Office online checking service or who provide a manual document listed as an acceptable document more or less favourably.
As well as direct discrimination, the code highlights indirect discrimination, which could include insisting that a prospective tenant has been resident in the UK for more than five years, which would mean migrants are less likely to be able to meet the requirement.
Landlords must also not discriminate against someone based upon the type of right to rent check which is required.
For example, a British or Irish citizen can decide that they do not want to use an IDSP for digital identity document verification and use a physical document instead.
For those prospective tenants who cannot evidence their right to rent, the code adds that landlords must try to keep the offer of accommodation open to give them the opportunity to produce documents to demonstrate this.
Landlords issued with new Home Advice rules on how to avoid discriminating against Right to Rent tenants is written by Nigel Lewis for www.landlordzone.co.uk