Landlords will be required to check all new tenants’ immigration status from February next year.
Despite criticism of the scheme by the Labour Party and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the Home Office has announced that the right to rent initiative will go live across England following a six month pilot project in the West Midlands.
The Government’s evaluation of the pilot said “no major differences” were found in the experiences of white British and black and ethnic minority people trying to rent accommodation.
The official report said that although a small number of landlords showed a “potential for discrimination”, there was no real difference in the outcomes.
Overall, the report said that 109 people who were not legally in Britain were found due to the scheme and five penalty notices were given to landlords who had not carried out the required checks.
However, the report found that black and ethnic minority applicants were asked to provide more information in their applications than white applicants. Two Asian ‘mystery shoppers’ asked to try to rent property for the purposes of the evaluation found the process difficult. In one case, the landlord said it was easier to rent to a local person.
The other, who went to a letting agent, said: “I was told they needed to look at what they had that was suitable for me and they needed to check with the landlords on whether the landlord wanted to do the right to rent check because it cost extra.”
Homelessness charity Crisis said it was concerned that some people had lost their homes due to the checks.
Spokesman Matt Downie told The Guardian: “It is deeply troubling that in the pilot area, six of the local charities surveyed said that people they represent had become homeless as a result of the scheme, while seven indicated that people with the right to rent were struggling to find accommodation.”