LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Immigration checks on tenants "could breach human rights"

Immigration checks on tenants "could breach human rights"

Mandatory checks on prospective tenants’ immigration status could breach their human rights and spark an increase in racial discrimination and homelessness, a cross-party Parliamentary committee has warned.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has called for the vetting proposal not to be implemented until the equalities authorities are satisfied that sufficient safeguards are in place.

It said that the vetting proposal, contained in the Immigration Bill, could specifically breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

The committee warned that homelessness could also result from stopping some people entering the private rented sector based on their immigration status.

The committee expressed particular that migrant children could be made homeless or separated from their families.

?In its report, the committee asked the Government to explain the safeguards to mitigate the impact of the vetting proposals on children. The committee also expressed its concerns over how rights of appeal could be exercised.?

Dr Hywel Francis, chair of the committee, said: “Effective immigration control is recognised by human rights law as a legitimate aim which governments are entitled to pursue, and my committee accepts that the measures in this Bill are intended to pursue that aim. ?

?“However, creating a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants carries risks that the measures will have unintended consequences and lead to breaches of human rights and unjustified discrimination in practice. My committee is especially concerned about the restrictions on accessing residential tenancies according to immigration status, as these may expose children, and other migrants who have no right to be in the UK but face genuine obstacles to leaving, to the risk of homelessness, and could be applied in a way which is racially discriminatory. ? 

?“We likewise believe that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions, when considered alongside other proposals such as a residence test for legal aid and restrictions on judicial review, represent a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful decisions.”? ?