Right to rent immigration checks

Find out about the passport and immigration checks that landlords must do when you rent a home in England.

How landlords check you have the right to rent

A private landlord or letting agent must do a 'right to rent check' before they rent you a home in England. This means they must check your immigration status and that of anyone aged 18 or over who'll be living with you.

They'll ask to see your passport or other official documents that prove your immigration status. They must take copies of the documents and keep the copies safe. 

If you are a British citizen, Irish citizen or a national of the European Economic Area (EEA), a current or expired passport is an acceptable document.

If you are a British or Irish citizen without a passport, your birth certificate plus another accepted proof of identity should be enough.

For a full list of acceptable documents, see Gov.uk: Right to rent documents check.

A landlord or letting agent is allowed to charge you a fee for right to rent checks.

Who the landlord must check

Tenants

Right to rent checks are only needed if your tenancy started from:

  • 1 February 2016 anywhere in England
  • 1 December 2014 in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton

A check isn't needed if your tenancy agreement started before these dates. This applies even if your landlord later renews your agreement.

Lodgers

Right to rent checks are needed for lodgers. The checks apply if you are renting a room from a home-owner, private tenant, council tenant or housing association tenant.

Checks are needed only if you moved in from:

  • 1 February 2016 anywhere in England
  • 1 December 2014 in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton

A landlord can't rent you a room if you are unable to show you have the right to rent.

Other people living with you

Your landlord must make sure that any adults living with you in the property also have the right to rent. This includes your partner, grown-up children and any other adults who will be living there.

Landlords don't have to check guests staying in your home. A guest includes someone whose main home is somewhere else or who doesn't pay you rent. Contributions towards food and costs such as gas and electricity don't count as rent.

Checks aren't needed for children aged under 18 (but landlords should check they are aged under 18).

Checks if you don't have documents

A landlord or letting agent can't rent you the place if you are unable to show you have the right to rent.

If the Home Office has your original documents because you have an ongoing immigration application or appeal, the landlord or letting agent can ask for a Home Office right to rent check. They'll need your Home Office reference number and should get a response within 2 days.

If you have a time limit on stay in the UK

Your landlord must do a follow-up check after you move in if a right to rent check showed there's a time limit on your permission to stay in the UK. The deadline for this is the latest of these dates:

  • 12 months after the last check
  • the date your permission to stay in the UK runs out
  • the expiry date of passport or other document that shows your right to be in the UK

The check can be done up to 28 days before the deadline.

Your landlord must tell the Home Office if a follow up check shows you no longer have the right to rent.

Eviction if you don't have the right to rent

Your landlord must take reasonable steps to evict you if:

  • the Home Office sends them a notice that says you or a member of your household doesn't have the right to rent
  • your landlord does a follow up check that shows you no longer have the right to rent

Your landlord is allowed time to make an agreement with you about when you will move out. For example, if you have a fixed term tenancy and there are only 3 months left to run, it's reasonable for your landlord to allow you to stay until the end of the fixed term.

If someone in your home doesn't have the right to rent

Your landlord must take steps to end your tenancy if your household includes someone who doesn't have the right to rent. The landlord can take steps to evict everyone in your household, including children and those who do have the right to rent. 

Your landlord must follow the correct legal process for eviction. A court order is usually needed.

If the person without the right to rent leaves

It's reasonable for a landlord not to take steps to evict you if anyone who doesn't have the right to rent has moved out. 

You could ask the landlord to rent to you instead if the tenant doesn't have the right to rent leaves.

If no-one in your home has the right to rent

Your landlord has to follow special rules for eviction if no-one in your household has the right to rent.

Your landlord can make an agreement with you about when you will move out. If you don't reach an agreement, your landlord can give you notice to leave.  

You are entitled to 28 days' notice if you are a tenant. The notice must be on a special form with a copy of the Home Office notice attached. If you stay past the 28 day deadline, your landlord can evict you themselves (they don't need a court order but must not use force) or they can ask bailiffs from the High Court to do this.

Your landlord only has to give you reasonable notice to leave If you are a lodger. This doesn't have to be on a special form.

Get advice

If you're threatened with eviction:

Call our emergency helpline

Find out if you have the right to rent

You have the right to rent if you are:

  • a British or Irish citizen
  • a citizen of a country in the EU or EEA
  • a citizen of another country and have no time limit on your permission to live in the UK (such as indefinite leave to remain)

You can have a time-limited right to rent if there's a time limit on your permission to stay in the UK. This is likely if you have a visa:

  • for work
  • to study
  • as a husband, wife or civil partner of someone settled in the UK

The time-limited right to rent also applies if you have humanitarian protection, limited leave or discretionary leave to remain in the UK.

See Gov.uk to find out who has the right to rent.


Last updated 11 Oct 2017 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.