Immigration status and the right to rent a property (R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
As part of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ towards those without leave to remain in the UK, the Immigration Act 2014 prevents landlords from renting property to people who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK. A body representing the interests of immigrants challenged this, arguing that the law breached both equality and human rights legislation because it causes landlords to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their nationality and/or their race. This may happen, for example, because landlords think they do not look or sound British, even if they are not disqualified from renting.
NHS regulations require most non-EU citizens to pay up to 150 percent of the cost of healthcare treatment. A man who was being treated for cancer challenged this in the courts, arguing that the regulations did not comply with equality laws.
Hillingdon Council’s housing rules said that a person must have lived in the area for at least ten years before they could apply for a house. The council refused two people, a refugee who had been given permission to stay in the UK and an Irish Traveller, on these grounds. We saw this as discriminatory and we intervened in their cases in the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal.
We funded a case challenging the Secretary of State for Justice’s decision to make PAVA spray available in prisons during the coronavirus pandemic, before agreed safeguards were in place. As a result of the action, the use of PAVA will be more tightly controlled and monitored. This should help prevent disproportionate use against prisoners sharing particular protected characteristics and improve scrutiny and accountability.