Right to Rent checks

Wayne Pearsall made this Freedom of Information request to Home Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Home Office,

I am writing in connection to your recent news article which was posted online at the following URL:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

This news article was removed less than 24 hours after publication (the reason apparantly being: "Published in Error"). I do wonder exactly what the error was.....

I note that the publication stated the following:
-------------
From late autumn 2014, landlords in some areas will need to check that tenants have a right to rent in the UK before letting a property to them.

Right to rent checks will only apply to landlords of private residential property, and to new tenancy agreements. Landlords won’t need to check the immigration status of existing tenants.

In most cases a right to rent check just means checking that a prospective tenant has certain documents, like a passport or a biometric residence permit. Landlords will need to photocopy these documents to show that the check has been carried out.

Most landlords won’t need to contact the Home Office, however the Home Office will provide a checking service for more complex cases.

At first, the requirements will apply in just one area of the UK. The government will announce that area in September 2014 along with:
•guidance and a full list of documents which can be used to prove a right to rent
•an online aid to help landlords and tenants understand if they are affected and how to conduct a check
•a local rate telephone helpline
•a checking service for more complex cases

The requirements may apply more widely from 2015.

(link: https://www.qbaseprojects.co.uk/homeoffi...) Register your details(/link) if you’d like the Home Office to keep you informed with the latest information on right to rent checks.
-------------

I am going to begin with the most important question:
QBaseProjects.co.uk is a registered domain of Qbase Software Development Ltd, 31-33 Bold Street Chambers, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 1HL, United Kingdom

The Home Office are passing potential landlords onto an external organisation to collect private information. I note that the form at //qbaseprojects.co.uk/homeoffice/survey.asp?id=27 asks for the following information:
Title, Forename, Surname, Email Address, Organisation, Town and County.

This is a significant amount of information to collate to be added onto a mailing list. Can you please provide the reason, for requesting so much information.

Can you please provide the privacy statement of the external organisation, any contractual agreement you have with them, regarding data security and also provide the reasoning for not making users aware that they are being directed to an external NGO website for the collation of their very sensitive details.

I note that the webpage does not state at any point that the users will be directed to an external website. The external website portrays itself to be the Home Office website, with no mention of any privacy statement, ETC. I also note that the said domain actually breaches the EU Cookie Directive. Upon entry to the website the following cookie is set upon my machine WITHOUT CONSENT!:
---
NAME ASPSESSIONIDAGUDCBCS
VALUE DFJPBFFBIMKGHADMKDAEIAFP
DOMAIN qbaseprojects.co.uk
PATH /
EXPIRES At the end of the Session
---

Therefore, it is clear that the website does not comply with EU law - but still the Home Office direct users to said BUSINESS website?

Moving on from this section of my FOI request, I refer back to the actual 'Right to Rent checks'.

I believed that a right to housing was a Human Right. Please provide your assessment which outlines how your 'right to rent' checks comply with your international obligations to ensure that everybody has adequate housing.

---
The right to housing is recognised in a number of international human rights instruments. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.[1] It states that:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
---

Please do not try and feed me the "these checks help prevent rouge landlords" line. We all know that the only reason these checks are coming is to make life impossible for undocumented immigrants (many of which have no legal requirement for documentation).

The publication above refers to:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy...

This document has also been removed from the Gov.UK website. (Another publication error it seems....)

For ease of reference, the above five page document said the following:
-------------------------
PAGE 1
IMMIGRATION ACTThe Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May. In doing so it becamethe Immigration Act 2014. Factsheet: Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation(clauses 22-28)Key facts• The Government is making it harder for illegal immigrants to rentaccommodation. The Immigration Act 2014 introduced a requirement forlandlords of private rental accommodation to conduct checks to establish thatnew tenants have the right to rent in the UK. Landlords who rent to illegalmigrants without conducting these checks will be liable for a civil penalty. • On 29 July, the Prime Minister announced that these requirements will comeinto force in one part of the UK in late autumn of this year. The Governmentwill announce the location of this first phase in the autumn. The requirementsmay apply more widely from 2015. The right to rent checks will only apply to new tenancy agreements. Existingtenancy agreements are unaffected and landlords will not be required to carryout retrospective checks. The requirements apply to all adults (aged 18 andover) living at the property.• Failure to comply could result in a civil penalty up to a maximum £3000.Timescales[The timescales outlined in this factsheet are correct at the time of publishingbut subject to change.]• The checks may become mandatory for all UK landlords next year (2015). • But initially they will apply in a single UK location (to be announced in theautumn). • At that point we will publish draft Codes of Practice, guidance and onlineresources, including an aid to help landlords and tenants identify whether theyare affected and, if so, how to conduct a check.• The checks will be very simple, and in most cases landlords will be able toconduct them without contacting the Home Office. • The Government will provide a comprehensive set of services to helplandlords conduct checks, including online guidance and a telephone helpline
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Page 2
(local rate) providing general information, and a case-checking service formore complex cases. • In the meantime, landlords and tenants can have a look at the right to workcheck (www.gov.uk/legal-right-to-work-in-the-uk), which is similar to resourcethat we will be introducing for landlords. BackgroundData from the ONS Labour Force Survey and Annual Population Survey indicatesthat use of the private rented sector is particularly high among recently arrivingmigrants, with 85% of migrants who have been in the UK for less than a year usingthis type of housing.The government wants to ensure tenants in private rented housing are not living inthe UK illegally and is already working with councils to tackle rogue landlords whoexploit migrant by housing them in “beds in sheds” and illegally overcrowdedaccommodation. Under the new measures, the Home Office will be equipped for thefirst time with powers to deal with landlords who rent homes to illegal migrants.Many private landlords already make checks on tenants’ identify and credit status,making it difficult for illegal migrants to rent properties from them. But not alllandlords do that. The new measures in the Act mirror the existing and long-standing requirements on employers to ensure that an employee has a right to workhere; they will make it harder for illegal migrants to establish a settled life in the UK.This is no more that we ask employers to do – we’re not asking landlords to becomeimmigration experts. Those that undertake simple steps will have nothing to fear,and there will not be a criminal penalty.What we are going to do:• Ensure that new tenants in private rented housing are not living in the UKillegally.• This will complement the government’s work in tackling rogue landlords whoprovide substandard or illegal accommodation.• Ensure that landlords in the private rented sector take steps to check thestatus of individuals before allowing them to rent or occupy property.• Introduce financial penalties for landlords who rent to illegal immigrantshaving failed to comply with the checking requirement.How we are going to do it:• Private landlords will be required to make simple checks on new tenants toensure that they are entitled to be in this country. The checks will be
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Page 3
straightforward and quick for law-abiding landlords and tenants to complywith.• Landlords or agents who are responsible for undertaking checks and fail to doso, or knowingly allow illegal immigrants to rent their properties will be given acivil penalty.• An on-line right to work checking aid (www.gov.uk/legal-right-to-work-in-the-uk) has attracted praise as being user friendly, quick and easy to use. TheHome Office is creating a similar tool for landlords.• Checks will be simple and straightforward for landlords to complete. Landlordswill need to obtain and copy documents demonstrating an individual’s right torent in the UK, such as a passport or biometric residence permit. In mostcases there will be no need for landlords to contact the Home Office. • We will provide a comprehensive set of services to assist landlords conductchecks, including;o guidance and on-line resources, supported by a telephone helpline (localrate) providing general informationo a case-checking service for status verification where the prospectivetenant has an outstanding immigration application with the Home Office orthe Home Office has their documents. This service will provide a clearyes/no response within two working days. • Our focus is on making this work for the housing market and minimisingregulation. If a landlord has not had an answer from the Home Office withintwo working days, they can go ahead and rent without risk of incurring apenalty.• We are focussed on caring for the vulnerable. We have listened to housingand homelessness stakeholders’ concerns, and as a result we are:- Making it easy for homeless and vulnerable people to prove theirentitlement through simple documentary requirements for the right torent check;- Exempting those parts of the housing market where further regulationis least appropriate from this obligation, including homelessnesshostels, refuges and student accommodation including all halls ofresidence, any accommodation provided for students directly by ahigher educational institution (HEI), and residency agreements inprivate residential properties where the student has been nominated tooccupy the property by a HEI; and
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Page 4
- Excluding all tenants housed by local authorities under a statutory dutyfrom the scheme.The Act will benefit• Landlords and agents providing a legitimate service to tenants.• Those communities blighted by illegal structures and overcrowded houses.• Lawful residents who face competition from illegal migrants in the housingmarket.Next steps• The government will publish a draft code of practice for the operation of thecivil penalty regime, which includes guidance for landlords, and draftregulations setting out the status documents that landlords will be required tocheck.• Subject to Parliamentary approval, the intention is to implement the scheme inlate autumn 2014. It will not apply to pre-existing tenancies. Landlords willonly have to conduct checks on new tenants from the implementation date.• The government will continue to communicate with industry groups andensure that general publicity helps landlords to understand their duties.Q&ANo changesFurther reading No changesHome Office August 2014 – All information in this factsheet was correct at the time ofpublishing but is subject to change.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Page 5
-------------------------

You refer to "Making it easy for homeless and vulnerable people to prove their entitlement through simple documentary requirements for the right to rent check"

We know that this is an idiotic stance. Many homeless people don't have documents... They cannot claim JSA for failure to have ID. How can you claim "Simple documentary evidence"

Please provide a list of said "simple documentary requirements".

Please outline how said Right to Rent checks are compliant on data protection laws, and respect everybody's right to privacy. Personally, I wouldn't like to go and give any tom, dick or harry my passport, or if I didn't hold a passport my entire life story... To myself (and I am sure many others) this goes far beyond invasion of privacy and a completely obsurd nanny state.

Please outline how said Right to Rent checks will work with a non-EU spouse of an EEA National. Said persons are not required to hold any form of residence documentation. Said persons can enter the UK under Article 5 of the Free Movement directive without a visa. Said persons are not subject to immigration control. If said person holds nothing other than their passport (non-EU) and marriage certificate - what would the process be for said person to rent accomodation.

We then move onto Zambrano / Derivative Rights residents. As with EEA national family members - they do not require residence documentation. Would the process for confirming their right to rent be any different?

Obviously, this is a request to provide the information which you do store, which can answer the questions above - along with any other information requested.

Should you need to redact, please provide the full document, title, reference, date, author, department, ETC. If redacting I expect a clear picture of the amount of data redacted presenting.

Yours faithfully,

Wayne Pearsall

FOI Requests, Home Office

Thank you for contacting the Home Office FOI Requests mailbox.

The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 provides public access to
recorded information held by the department.
If you have submitted a valid FoI request, we will acknowledge your
request within 24 hours, and aim to provide the information requested
within 20 working days as specified under the FoI Act.

Please note we are unable to respond to non-FOI immigration enquiries. If
you have a general immigration enquiry, or require an update on a specific
case, contact information can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... and
https://www.gov.uk/visas-immigration

 

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Home Office,
I am writing regarding my FOI request on WDTK ref 223936 ('Right to Rent checks') dated 7th August 2014. You can view the request in full here:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

You have not responded to this request, confirming my reference number.

I note that your departmental FOI guidance ( https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2... ) outlines that by day 5 I should of received a response from the relevant business Unit ('Business unit writes to requester to acknowledge request').

As I have not received this response from the relevant business unit, I am writing to confirm that you have received my request. *I note that your system acknowledged receipt of my request.

I would be most greatful if you could respond with the reference number which you have assigned to my request.

Yours faithfully,

Wayne Pearsall

FOI Requests, Home Office

Thank you for contacting the Home Office FOI Requests mailbox.

The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 provides public access to
recorded information held by the department.
If you have submitted a valid FoI request, we will acknowledge your
request within 24 hours, and aim to provide the information requested
within 20 working days as specified under the FoI Act.

Please note we are unable to respond to non-FOI immigration enquiries. If
you have a general immigration enquiry, or require an update on a specific
case, contact information can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... and
https://www.gov.uk/visas-immigration

 

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

FOI Requests, Home Office

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request. This has been assigned FOI Ref 32609. We will aim to send you a full reposnse by 05/09/2014, which is Twenty working days from the date we received your request.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate in contacting us

Thank you

FOI Requests
Home Office

show quoted sections

FOI Responses, Home Office

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Pearsall

 

 

Please find enclosed response to your FOI request.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Information Access Team

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Home Office,

Ref: 32609

I'm not entirely satisfied with your response, whilst you have provided a significantly more useful response to this request than many of my previous requests, I still believe that your response is not entirely accurate.

To begin with: EEA Documentation is apparantly OPTIONAL. However, you did not state what documentation could be supplied to provide proof for these right to rent checks. Should I assume that the same case of employment elegibility proof stands (IE: unless a company is willing to take the risk, you ain't got a hope in hell). I note that under Article 25(1) of the Citizen's directive, other documentary evidence should be accepted - this was held binding in the case of Okuoimose v City Facilities Management (UK) Ltd UKEAT/0192/11/DA - http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/201...

Therefore, despite you stating "It is open, as now, for people who fall into these categories to obtain confirmation from the Home
Office that they enjoy a right to reside in the UK under EU law. " This does not provide the information requested.

Article 25(1) states:
"1. Possession of a registration certificate as referred to in Article 8, of a document certifying permanent residence, of a certificate attesting submission of an application for a family member residence card, of a residence card or of a permanent residence card, *****may under no circumstances be made a precondition****** for the exercise of a right or the completion of an administrative formality, as entitlement to rights may be attested by any other means of proof." (Do you see the issue here?... You're saying that the UK are making residence documentation a precondition, whilst this is directly in breach of the clearly worded Directive.)

Should I take that your response to the three questions:
"Please outline how said Right to Rent checks will work with a non-EU spouse of an EEA National

what would the process be for said person to rent accommodation

Would the process for confirming their right to rent be any different?- Derivative cases. "

Is infact "They must apply for a residence card"?

I note your response: "We are unable to provide details of the Home Office’s contractual arrangements with the third party service provider as these matters are commercially sensitive. As is common practice across both the public and private sector, the Home Office procures the expertise of third parties in area where they can improve upon customer servicing.

Users are directed to a non Home Office resource, however, this is easily discernible by a user. Any data gathered at this domain is the property of the Home Office and is not available to any other body. "

This is not satisfactory. Forgetting that you haven't cited the exact exemption under the FOIA, nore have you conducted the required PIT, I expect that the contractual agreement, privacy statement, and other related data is shared. If any of the said documents are truely exempt under the FOI act I expect that the said documents are provided with the redactions clearly outlining the information which is being redacted. I am pretty sure that not all of the contractual agreement is considered excempt , afterall, I am sure that these services would of been put out for public tender - and contracts generally get included in said tender?

On the final note of "Easily discernible by a user"... Really? At what point are users informed that they are being transfered to an external website? https://www.dropbox.com/s/9oc89e3634xjoe...

There are no statements at any point that the collated information is optional, nor is it stated that the information is provided to a third party. On which case - the third party's privacy statement is not provided to the user.

I am sure the Home Office would agree that I am not the "Average User". I have found the said companies Privacy Statement: http://www.qbase.net/privacy-policy.aspx

However, this is not linked from the survey page (it actually took a significant Google Search)...

"Privacy Policy

Qbase.net is jointly owned & operated by Qbase Data Services Ltd & by Qbase Software Development Ltd. Qbase.us is owned & operated by Qbase Llc. Information we collect from users of the site will be stored by us on computers in the UK and may be used in the following ways:

Contact Details

We will use your contact details (your name, job title, telephone and fax number and your e-mail and postal addresses) to provide any services requested by you and also to tell you about important changes to the site and its functionality. These details will be used by Qbase Data Services Ltd by Qbase Software Development Ltd to provide you with information about other relevant services and products.

Statistical Information

Aggregate statistical information provided by us will not include personally identifying information.

Cookies

We make use of cookies to gather valuable information about how users move around the site. This enables us to understand how the site is used and to make improvements.

The information we gather by use of cookies does not include personally identifying information.

Voluntary Information

We may ask for further information about you as part of online surveys or if you enter any competition or other promotional feature. This information will be used to enable us to improve our website or online service or with a view to publishing surveys on an un-attributable basis. It may also be used to inform you of relevant products and services from Qbase Data Services Ltd from Qbase Software Development Ltd.

You have the right to be told what personal information we hold about you on our databases. You should write to us, for the attention of Ian Johnstone, Qbase , 31-33 Bold Street, Warrington, WA1 1HL, United Kingdom stating your full name, your address. A small administrative charge may be made for fulfilling this request.

Data Protection Act

Both Qbase Data Services and Qbase Software Development are registered as data controllers by the Information Commissioner"

I note the following "Privacy notices code of practice

The privacy notices code of practice was launched on 12 June 2009 following a period of public consultation.

This code explains that the duty to ******actively communicate a privacy notice******* is strongest where the intended use of the information will be unexpected or objectionable, or where the information ******is confidential or particularly sensitive******. It also explains that there is little value in informing people of *****obvious uses of their information*****.

The code of practice will help you to comply with one of the most important but most misunderstood parts of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The Information Commissioner’s Office will take these standards into account when, for example, we receive a complaint that information has been collected in an unreasonable way. "
http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/data...

By failing to notify users that they are being directed to a third party (NGO), The collation of the information could well be defined as unexpected or objectionable. - I am sure we all agree that the said information requested is "Confidential and Particularly sensitive".

The fact that the information is being collated by a third party is NOT obvious. The Third Party NGO is not clearly outlined here.

Therefore, on the fact that you've refused to provide requested information (which you do store), please conduct an internal review.

Yours faithfully,

Wayne Pearsall

FOI Requests, Home Office

Thank you for contacting the Home Office FOI Requests mailbox.

The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 provides public access to
recorded information held by the department.
If you have submitted a valid FoI request, we will acknowledge your
request within 24 hours, and aim to provide the information requested
within 20 working days as specified under the FoI Act.

Please note we are unable to respond to non-FOI immigration enquiries. If
you have a general immigration enquiry, or require an update on a specific
case, contact information can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... and
https://www.gov.uk/visas-immigration

 

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

FOI Requests, Home Office

Thank you for your email] of 08/09/2014, in which you ask for an internal review of our response to your Freedom of Information request of 32609.

We will aim to send you a full response by 16/10/2014, which is twenty working days from the date when we received your request.

The internal review will be carried out by D.Pottinger If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact them using the above address.

Yours sincerely

FoI Requests

show quoted sections

FOI Responses, Home Office

1 Attachment

Mr Pearsall

Please find attached a response to your request for an internal review

 

 

D Pottinger

Information Access Team

Home Office

 

Please note that any futher correspondence should be sent to 
[1][Home Office request email]  not FOI responses.

 

 

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Home Office request email]