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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

Before you can rent a home in England, a landlord or letting agent 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. Current or expired passports are acceptable documents for British, Irish and EU citizens.

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.

Checks if you don't have documents

A check can be done even if the Home Office has your original documents because of 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.

When checks are needed for private tenants

Right to rent checks must be done before you start a private tenancy in England. The checks apply to verbal and written agreements.

Checks are needed for tenancies that started from:

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

A check isn't needed if you became a tenant before these dates and your landlord renews your agreement.

A landlord or letting agent can't rent you the place if you can't show you have the right to rent. Your landlord must make sure that any other adults living in the property have the right to rent, so must check their immigration status too. Your landlord could be fined or imprisoned if they don't do this.

Checks aren't needed for guests 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.

Immigration checks aren't needed for children aged under 18, but landlords should check they are aged under 18.

Right to rent checks for lodgers

Right to rent checks are needed for lodgers. The checks apply to people renting a room from home-owners, private tenants, council tenants or housing association tenants.

Right to rent checks are needed if a lodger moves in from:

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

A check isn't needed if you became a lodger before these dates and your landlord renews your agreement.

Checks if you have a time limited right to rent

If a right to rent check showed there's a time limit on your permission to stay in the UK, your landlord must do a follow-up check. 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

A landlord must take reasonable steps to evict tenants or lodgers if:

  • the Home Office sends them a notice that says someone living in their household doesn't have the right to rent
  • a follow up check shows you no longer have the right to rent

Your landlord is allowed time to come to an agreement with you about when you will move out. It's considered reasonable, for example, for you to leave at the end of your tenancy's fixed term if there are 3 months or less left to run.

Get advice now if you are facing eviction.

Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444

Eviction if no-one in your home has the right to rent

Special rules apply if:

  • you are a single person household and you don't have the right to rent
  • you live with other adults and none of you have the right to rent

If you don't reach an agreement about when you will move out, your landlord can give you 28 days' notice to leave. 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 (they don't need a court order but shouldn't use force) or they can ask bailiffs from the High Court to do so.

If you are a lodger and you don't have the right to rent, your landlord may only have to give you reasonable notice to leave.

Eviction if someone in your home has the right to rent

If you're in a household that includes two or more adults, your landlord must take action to end the tenancy if any of you don't have the right to rent.

It's reasonable for a landlord to:

  • agree to rent to adults who do have a right to rent if anyone without the right to rent has moved out
  • 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.

Check if you have the right to rent

You have the right to rent if you are:

  • British
  • a citizen of a country in the EU or EEA
  • a citizen of another country with no time limits 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.

See Gov.uk to check who has the right to rent.


Last updated 20 Dec 2016 | © Shelter

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