Right to rent immigration checks
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 5 April 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 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're not a British or Irish citizen, your passport or documents must confirm your permission to be in the UK.
You can 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
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.
If your documents are with the Home Office
The landlord can either:
contact the landlord right to rent helpline on 0300 069 9799
You need to give them your Home Office reference number.
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.
If you fail a right to rent check
If you fail a pre-tenancy check, the landlord or agent can't 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 don't 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 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 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 don't 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 can't give immigration advice.
Last updated: 29 June 2021