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.