Risk of Tenant Discrimination in Rent Entitlement Legislation: JMW Solicitors

From September 2022, biometric residence cards and permits and border worker permits will no longer be acceptable for checks on the right to rent in England.

For the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland, the Home Office will require the tenant to register with a certified identity service provider and then that provider provide agents and landlords with a check payable to using identity document validation technology.

These changes “potentially open up a new avenue of discrimination” for some tenants, according to JMW Solicitors partner David Smith.

He argues that this complexity can put tenants who cannot easily register with IDSPs at a disadvantage, “because tenants who cannot register easily or who choose not to do so will find it more difficult to rent a property because that agents will want to deal with tenants they can vet quickly with minimal risk.”

The commercial litigation expert also wonders if the government has put in place enough guidelines for these new rules.

“What is unclear is whether tenants could potentially have to register with multiple identity verification services, as there is bound to be more than one such provider in the market,” says Smith.

“For officers, the changes present the challenge of integrating all of this into their processes and ensuring their staff are aware of the myriad of complex control mechanisms to ensure they avoid discrimination.”

Concerns about discrimination have already been raised by lobbyists, who have called for the rent law to be scrapped.

In 2019, as the Conservative Party was in a leadership race, a coalition of several bodies, including the Residential Landlords Association and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, agreed the legislation could result in discrimination .

At the time, Nicolas Hatton, chief executive of The3million, which supports EU citizens based in the UK, called on the government to “end discrimination” and added: “Two thirds of EU citizens in the UK live in private rental accommodation and be affected if this failed scheme continues.

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