Right to Rent: Government Issue Anti-Discrimination Guide for Landlords
As of 6th April 2022, landlords, or letting agents acting on behalf of landlords, will be expected to follow new guidelines designed to ensure that they do not discriminate against potential tenants while enforcing current Right to Rent regulations. The guidelines apply to all repeat checks on existing tenants and any new residential tenancy agreement that will commence on or after 6th April this year. Why have these guidelines been produced, and how will they help landlords?
Why The Guide Has Been Issued
Landlords and agencies in England are required to make the right-to-rent checks on prospective tenants to ensure that they are lawfully allowed to rent privately under the 2014 Immigration Act. Under the existing code of practice, landlords have a legal responsibility to prevent anyone without a lawful immigration status from accessing the private rental market.
This guidance, which has recently undergone government consultation, will be issued to ensure landlords and agencies adhere to the 2010 Equality Act when making checks to comply with the Immigration Act.
Although the guide primarily focuses on racial discrimination, all landlords and agencies must make themselves aware of every characteristic protected by the Equality Act. Doing so will protect them from the risk of legal action.
As well as race, the Equality Act prohibits discrimination against people with other protected characteristics covering someone’s age, disability status, gender alignment, marital and parental status, religious beliefs, and sexuality.
How the Guide helps Landlords
Many elements of how the Equality Act covers race are evident. For example, skin colour, nationality, and ethnic origins are often easily discernible. A vital benefit of the guidance is how it helps demystify more ambiguous parts of who is covered by the race-protected characteristic.
For example, where someone’s ethnic or national origins differ from their nationality, the act will cover them. Likewise, members of some religious groups, such as Jews and Sikhs, are also considered racial groups under the legislation.
The guide provides practical advice to landlords on what they should be doing when undertaking checks on prospective tenants. Understanding this will help them avoid the risk of contravening the Equality Act on the grounds of direct and indirect race discrimination.
Critical Points Covered in the Guide
The guide helps landlords avoid direct discrimination by not making assumptions about a tenant’s right to rent based on their skin colour, nationality, ethnic origins, accent, or length of residency in the UK.
The guidance also helps ensure that landlords do not indirectly discriminate against tenants when conducting right-to-rent checks. Landlords must check the status of all applicants, not just those they suspect may be migrants. They must not treat a tenant with a time-limited right to rent any more or less favourably than anyone else. In addition, tenants with access to the online checking service provided by the Home Office may not receive preferential treatment.
Whether direct or indirect, these examples of race discrimination would be considered unlawful. Following the guidelines will ensure protection from legal action for all landlords.
Are You a Landlord in North West London?
If you’re a landlord in North West London and would like further advice on Right to Rent Checks or the new Government-issued Anti-Discrimination Guide, check out the Government website which contains plenty of information around this. At Regal Estates, we also offer advice and guidance around landlord legislation as part of all our letting services. Contact us today for more details on 020 8459 2530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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