One year ago, on 1 February 2016, the government implemented its “right to rent” scheme, requiring landlords who let property in England to carry out checks on the immigration status of potential tenants, as part of a government drive to create a “hostile environment for illegal migrants”.
The government plans to extend the scheme to the rest of the UK. But before it does, the government must ask whether the scheme’s biggest effect has been to deny some of society’s most vulnerable people the accommodation they need.
Right to rent document checks have to be completed by private landlords, as well as some housing associations and, in theory, by anyone taking in a lodger. When the government launched the scheme (pdf) last February, it was estimated that more than 2.6m checks could be needed every year.
The problem is that no one knows whether this is happening. The Home Office has admitted it cannot monitor the scheme and it’s a fair bet given the limited publicity that at least a proportion of England’s 1.8m private landlords are still completely unaware of it.