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Landlords warned against discrimination

Landlords and letting agents are being told to make sure they don’t discriminate against new tenants when they implement the Government’s ‘Right to Rent’ policy.

Under the Home Office regulations, which came into force earlier this year, landlords now have a duty to ensure they or their agents establish the immigration status of adult tenants. They are required to request, check and make a copy of applicable documentation, such as a passport, birth certificate, driving licence or official letter.

The Council has published a ‘Right to Rent statement’ for landlords and letting agents detailing how it expects them to fulfil their duties to avoid discrimination. It also includes advice for tenants who feel they have been discriminated against.

Any landlord or letting agent deemed to have acted in a discriminatory way could face court action and fines, as well as reputational damage.

Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing
We know the majority of landlords in Hackney will seek to implement Right to Rent in a fair and consistent way. However, we want to be clear that we will take a zero tolerance approach to discrimination against tenants, whether it be deliberate or through ignorance.

“There is no home for prejudice in Hackney. The Council will always support the enforcement of punitive action against a landlord or letting agent who has been found guilty of direct or indirect discrimination against potential tenants.
Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing

The Council’s expectations of landlords and letting agents include:

  • All households seeking private rented accommodation will be treated fairly and consistently
  • Open and clear advice will be offered to all potential tenants
  • No one will be treated less favourably if they have a time-limited right to remain in the UK
  • Tolerance of administrative delays in tenants providing documentation
  • A clear understanding of the Home Office guidance, and actively seeking advice on any areas of confusion

Discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics, including race, religion and beliefs, is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. ‘Race’ includes nationality, national or ethnic origin, and skin colour. Discrimination can be direct, for example treating someone differently because of their race, or indirect, for example where an individual’s or organisation’s practices, policies or procedures have the effect of disadvantaging people of a particular racial group.

Information and advice for people wanting to rent who feel they may have been discriminated against is available on the Citizens Advice website or the Equality Advisory Support Service helpline - 0808 800 0082.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants runs an Undocumented Migrants Helpline for people without any immigration status who are looking to rent - 0207 553 7470.