Right to rent immigration checks

Coronavirus update:

Home Office guidance says that landlords can check documents over video calls or accept scanned copies or photos of original documents during the coronavirus outbreak.

These measures are in place until 30 September 2022.

What is the right to rent?

Private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of all tenants, lodgers and any other adults who will be living in the property.

The right to rent check has to take place before the tenancy starts.

You will be asked to provide documents to show you have the right to live in the UK, either permanently or temporarily.

Who has the right to rent?

You have the right to rent if any of the following apply:

  • you're a British or Irish citizen

  • you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

  • you have refugee status or humanitarian protection

  • you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme

  • 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 you're fleeing war in Ukraine, you have the right to rent as long as you have permission from the Home Office to stay in the UK.

If your permission to be in the UK has a time limit, your landlord must do a follow up check after 12 months or when your leave to remain ends if this is sooner.

Passports and residence documents

You can show a passport or residence document to pass the check. If you' are not a British or Irish citizen, your passport or documents must confirm your permission to be in the UK.

If you do not have a passport, you have to provide 2 alternative documents instead. For example, a UK birth certificate and driving licence.

You can also prove your right to rent on GOV.UK if you have:

  • settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

  • a biometric residence card or permit

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.

Checking right to rent online

Your landlord or agent can check your right to rent online even if you have a paper copy of your documents.

Your landlord must use the online right to rent checking service if you have:

  • a biometric residence card or permit (BRC/BRP)

  • an eVisa

Your landlord may ask you for your date of birth and a 'share code' to get the information online. You can get a share code on gov.uk.

If your documents are with the Home Office

The landlord can either:

You need to give them your Home Office reference number.

Unlawful discrimination

Right to rent checks must be done in a way that does not break equality laws.

Landlords and agents must not make assumptions about who has the right to rent.

They must not encourage, discourage or refuse tenancy applications on the basis of:

  • race, colour or ethnicity

  • nationality or place of birth

  • accent or English language skills

  • length of residency in the UK

Landlords must not ask agents to discriminate. Agents must not accept instructions to discriminate.

You can complain to an agent's redress scheme if you face unlawful discrimination when looking for a private rented home.

Contact the Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS) for further advice on equality law.

Read the Home Office Code of Practice for Landlords: Avoiding unlawful discrimination

If you fail a right to rent check

If you fail a pre-tenancy check, the landlord or agent cannot legally offer you a tenancy.

If you fail a follow up check, your landlord must inform the Home Office.

The Home Office will ask you for further evidence of your right to rent in case there has been a mistake.

The Home Office can send out a disqualification notice. They can ask your landlord to take steps to end the tenancy if you do not have the right to rent.

Your landlord does not have to take steps to end the tenancy until asked to by the Home Office.

Eviction through court

If some people in your home have the right to rent and some do not 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 can leave.

Eviction without a court order

Your landlord can only evict you without a court order if no one who lives at the property has the right to rent.

They should give you at least 4 weeks' notice of eviction. But they can carry out a peaceable eviction after the date in the notice if you do not leave. For example, by changing the locks.

Your landlord must not threaten you or use force to make you leave.

Get immigration advice

You should get immigration advice if you're told that you have no right to rent, or that your permission to live in the UK has ended.

Shelter cannot give immigration advice.

Citizens Advice can refer you to a specialist adviser. You can also find immigration information on their website.

Last updated: 2 May 2022

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