Find out about the immigration checks that landlords and agents must do when you rent a private home in England.
What is the right to rent?
Before renting out a room or a property, private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of:
- the tenant or lodger
- any other adults who will be living there
They don't have to check the status of children under 18, or guests who stay in your home but don't pay rent.
The checks only apply to agreements that started on or after 1 February 2016.
Who has the right to rent?
You have the right to rent if any of the following apply:
- you're a British or EEA citizen
- you have indefinite leave to remain or settled status
- you have refugee status or humanitarian protection
- you have permission to be in the UK, for example, on a work or student visa
- the Home Office has granted you a time limited right to rent
If your permission to be in the UK has a time limit, your landlord must do a further check after 12 months or when your leave ends if this is sooner.
Passports and residence documents
You can show a passport or residence document to pass the check. If you're not an EU national, your passport or documents must confirm your permission to be in the UK.
If you don't have a passport, you have to provide 2 alternative documents instead. For example, a UK birth certificate and driving licence.
Find a full list of acceptable documents on GOV.UK: Right to rent user guide
The landlord or agent will take copies of the documents you show them.
It's against the law to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of race, ethnicity or nationality. For example, landlords can't refuse to consider a tenant just because they don't have a British passport.
If your documents are with the Home Office
The landlord can either:
- request a right to rent check on GOV.UK
- contact the Landlords' Helpline on 0300 069 9799
You need to give them your Home Office reference number.
If the Home Office doesn't respond within 2 working days, the landlord can go ahead and rent to you.
If you fail a right to rent check
The landlord or agent can't legally offer you a tenancy if you fail a right to rent check.
Try and get immigration advice urgently if you're told you don't have permission to live in the UK.
Eviction without a court order
The Home Office sends your landlord a disqualification notice if they find that no one in your home has the right to rent.
Your landlord commits a criminal offence unless they take steps to end your tenancy.
They can give you a 4 week notice of eviction that tells you the date you must leave by.
When this date has passed, your tenancy ends and your landlord can change the locks.
They must not threaten you or use force to make you leave but they don't need a court order.
Eviction through court
If some people in your home have the right to rent and some don't, your landlord can only end your tenancy by:
- giving you the correct notice
- going to court for an eviction order
With most private tenancies they will use the section 21 eviction procedure.
If you're the tenant and you have a right to rent, you could negotiate with the landlord. For example, you could ask to stay on if the person with no right to rent leaves.
Get housing advice
If you're facing eviction, contact a Shelter adviser
Last updated 30 Jul 2019 | © Shelter
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