EYE opinion piece: Why Right to Rent should be suspended at once after Windrush fiasco

Agents have been among the enforcers of the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy which has led to the Windrush scandal.

Right to Rent means that it is a mandatory requirement for agents and landlords to check whether a prospective tenant has the right to be in this country.

However, many of the Windrush generation – children of parents specifically invited to come to this country – have no papers that can prove they have been legally living here, contributing to our society and paying taxes, for years.

The fiasco means that without documentation, they cannot prove they have any right to rent, or to work, or to receive hospital treatment.

There have been an unknown number of deportations.

Agents run the risk of civil and criminal sanctions if they do not carry out Right to Rent checks.

Because it is always better not to take chances, anecdotally agents prefer to go with ‘safe’ tenants.

It has meant an uncomfortable regime which some may feel comes perilously close to legalised, indeed almost mandatory, racism.

It is not even clear the extent to which the policy has worked in deporting illegal immigrants. Someone determined to be in this country will be able to produce convincing paperwork.

Right to Rent was always a fraught policy, with agents having to perform the role of border police.

But how absurd – and cruel – can it be that agents are having to administer this fiasco of a policy because if they don’t, they could be fined or even risk getting a criminal record?

How many perfectly good tenants have been turned away? How many have been forced into accommodation which is itself illegal?

Is it possible that your own agency has turned away Windrush tenants, because you were following the letter of the law?

The immediate suspension of Right to Rent while the whole ‘hostile environment’ policy is re-examined would seem to us to be a good – and the only possible – start.

We would be interested to know what readers think.

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10 Comments

  1. Will

    ROGUE GOVERNMENT

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  2. Woodentop

    Because it is always better not to take chances, anecdotally agents prefer to go with ‘safe’ tenants.

     

    Unwise not to do so! The failings of all governments to not get to grips with illegal immigrants for decades is the route cause and the Windrush fiasco is really the end result of not thinking forward of the fall out on the innocent. Organised crime will fool the average agent with fraudulent documentation. Agents should not be policing, they should log onto a tenant data base with tenant details and let the authorities who police, to make the checks from that information. You would catch more illegal immigrants?

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  3. SecretAgent

    Abolish it… we are not border control!! Where does it stop, CRB & Criminal record checks, shall we check they have submitted their taxes too? Oh and wait…. We can’t charge them a fee.. as technically they are not even our client.

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    1. Woodentop

      shall we check they have submitted their taxes too?

       

      A perfect example of how it could work … we currently have  a system where agents are now required to disclose annual landlords details to HMRC who then follow up with their own enquiries. There is more than one landlord who now is under investigation and no doubt not happy with their agent. Are agents paid for this time … NO.

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      1. AniMaL90

        Aha! The famous not my problem approach.

        Imagine this world, the off duty paramedic walks past the dying estate agent and carries on home, He is not being paid to stop and help.

        Look at the bigger picture, not just your pay packet.

        Secondly, if HRMC are investigating clients of yours, it might be time to loose them as clients. This may be a long running client with multi listings but a drop in revenue is better than being linked to funding terrorist groups and the fine –

        http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/hmrc-figures-suggest-estate-agents-arent-really-being-fined-seven-figure-sums-for-anti-money-laundering-failures/#comment-73350

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  4. Mark Walker

    Hallelujah, Ros.

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  5. MF

    100% agree with you, Ros.  Thank you.

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  6. CountryLass

    Has anyone received training on how to spot a false document? All I know is when I take an application, I get a copy of the passport and upload a copy of it to my referencing agency, making sure to put in the expiry date and MRZ thingy at the bottom. I have no idea if its real or not!

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  7. Room101

    Regurgitated from the archive, but essentially in agreement that the government need to stop delegating and shirking their responsibilities.

     
    Room101
    FEBRUARY 22, 2018 AT 09:18#4
    Oh look a group of people at the top who tax our salaries, tax every purchase we make and then collect council tax, but will ban agents from collecting funds for performing a service.  They now have a group of people saying they need more funds in order to police and check agents arent flouting the ban on collecting funds; which agents are required to do in order to police and check tenants have a right to rent.
    Checks agents must do and risk fines and imprisonment if they get it wrong because it would be too cumbersome and too expensive for the people at the top to have tighter processes in place in the first place.
    What’s the word…..?

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  8. TOZ4

    What is all the fuss about? Whats the problem with checking an applicant’s passport and saving a copy? I dont think anyone is going to be dragged over the coals for failing to spot a decent fake.

     

    I’m happy to turn away applicants who dont meet the criteria.

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