While discrimination is illegal, some landlords could refuse to let properties to people with a non-British ethnic background, whether they are immigrants or not. If a tenant requires a check with the Home Office that can take 2 days to complete, lettings agents are not going to choose them if there are other acceptable tenants with a UK passport also wanting the property.
Generation Rent and 17 other organisations, including the Green Party, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and PricedOut, signed an open letter which was published in today’s Daily Telegraph.
The policy is so ridiculous, there are 38 MPs with surnames of a foreign origin who could be turned away by unscrupulous landlords if they tried to rent a home – including 16 who voted in favour of the checks.
According to the 2011 census, 1,087,340 private renter households in England and Wales have a household reference person (head of household) with a non-British or Irish ethnic background.
In the West Midlands areas of Birmingham, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton, where the policy is being trialled for six months, there are 47,541 private renter breadwinners with a non-British or Irish ethnic background who could find themselves struggling to find a home if the policy backfires.
The census also records that 1,625,720 people living in private rented housing have no passport, so could lose access to housing if they are unable to satisfy prospective landlords that they are in the country with proper identification.
Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, has tabled an Early Day Motion to protest this policy. The motion is an opportunity for MPs to register their concern about these measures – please ask your MP to sign it.