A coalition of the (un)willing? The convergence of landlord and renter interests in the “right to rent”

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The Immigration Act (2014 c. 24) at Part 3 established a new regime with private landlords incurring penalties (and potentially criminal liability from 1 November 2016) if they allow a person disqualified, by reason of migration status, to live, as their only or main home, in a property let by them. Known colloquially as the “right to rent”, the provisions signal a different approach to what has been perceived by Government as an ongoing problem – that of dealing with illegal migration. They operate in two ways; by restricting those subject to immigration control, access to accommodation through letting and occupation, and by imposing onerous duties on landlords to check tenants’ migration
status. Crucially, the legislation not only refocuses the object of regulation, but purports to redefine in some ways the manner in which property rights in
land have been historically conceptualized – primarily as a private rather than a public legal order. The right to rent provisions arguably flip this notion by making the act of letting accommodation the subject of intense scrutiny. Further, in expanding the purchase of the legislation, conceptual and practical counterproductive effects can arise. This paper will consider how a change in the emphasis of regulation introduced by the provisions, resulted in the coalescence of opposition by landlords and renters in a way that historiclly
would have been unthinkable. This is most evident in the successful recent judicial challenge to the provisions at first instance, in the case R (JCWI) v. SSHD
brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), where both landlord and tenant or renter representative bodies combined forces. Using the lens of Foucault’s governmentality, it is possible to see how Government has sought to shift the locus of control, which through its legislative and policy stance resulted in such fierce opposition. This paper will argue that by over-ext
ending itself, Government’s quest for control can lead to “unholy alliances” that were previously unthinkable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019


  • human rights
  • Regulation
  • Housing Law
  • Right to rent

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