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Right to rent immigration checks

Private landlords and letting agents must check that you are allowed to rent in England.

You might be asked for either a:

  • passport or immigration document

  • 'share code' which lets someone check your immigration status online

They cannot check documents over video calls or accept scanned copies.

What is the right to rent?

You have the 'right to rent' if you have the right to live in the UK.

You can pass a right to rent check by showing you have the right to live in the UK.

Landlords and agents must check the immigration status of adults who will live in the property before a tenancy starts.

If your permission to be in the UK has a time limit then the landlord must do another check either within a year or when your visa ends, whichever is later.

If you rent a room out to a lodger, you have to check their right to rent unless your landlord says they will do it. Ask them to put this in writing.

Unlawful discrimination

Discrimination means you're treated differently because of things like your disability, nationality, race, religion, sex or sexuality.

It means you are not treated fairly compared to other people.

Right to rent checks must not break equality laws. These laws aim to protect certain groups from discrimination.

This means landlords and agents must not treat you differently or unfairly because of:

  • race, skin colour or ethnic group

  • how long you have lived in the UK

  • your accent or English language skills

  • your nationality or where you were born

A landlord must not tell an agent to treat people differently because of these things.

It's against the law for either a landlord or agent to do this.

Our advice on discrimination and template letter can help you deal with any landlord or agent discrimination that you face when you look for a place to rent.

Who has the right to rent?

You have the right to rent if you have:

  • British or Irish citizenship

  • indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

  • refugee status or humanitarian protection

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

  • permission to be in the UK, for example, on a work or student visa

  • a time limited right to rent granted by the Home Office

If you've left Ukraine because of the war, you have the right to rent as long as you have Home Office permission to stay in the UK. For example, a visa under the Ukraine family scheme or Ukraine sponsorship scheme.

If you're seeking asylum, you do not usually have the right to rent. But you could get housing through the asylum support system if you have nowhere to live.

If your visa or leave to remain ends within a year, your landlord must do a follow up check after a year if you still live there.

If you have a visa or leave to remain for more than a year, your landlord must do a follow up check when your leave ends.

What documents you need

British and Irish citizens can show a:

  • current or expired passport

  • certificate of registration or naturalisation

GOV.UK lists other documents you could use if you do not have either of these. You will have to show 2 documents. For example, a UK birth certificate and driving licence.

Get an online 'share code' to pass the check

You need to get a 'share code' if you have:

  • EU settled or pre-settled status

  • a biometric residence card or permit

  • an eVisa

You can get a share code on GOV.UK.

Give the share code and your date of birth to the landlord or agent.

They can use these to check your right to rent on GOV.UK.

If you cannot get a share code

You can use your passport or an immigration document to prove your right to rent if it shows you have Home Office permission to be in the UK.

The landlord or agent will take copies of your documents.

GOV.UK has more on immigration documents you can use to prove your right to rent.

If your documents are with the Home Office

The landlord can either:

You need to give them your Home Office reference number.

If you cannot pass a right to rent check

The landlord or agent cannot legally give you a tenancy if you fail a pre-tenancy check.

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

The Home Office will ask you for proof of your status in case there has been a mistake.

Your landlord does not have to end your tenancy unless told to by the Home Office.

Eviction through court

If some people in your home have the right to rent, your landlord can only end the tenancy by:

  • giving you the correct notice

  • going to court for an eviction order

The minimum notice you could get before court action is 2 weeks. This only happens if your landlord uses a section 8 notice. They can only do this if the Home Office tells them that someone in your home does not have the right to rent.

But most private landlords use the section 21 eviction process. This means 2 months' notice before court action.

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 in your home has the right to rent.

You should get at least 4 weeks' notice of eviction.

Your landlord can change the locks after the date in the notice if you do not leave. They 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 help you get specialist immigration advice.

You can search for a regulated immigration adviser on GOV.UK

Last updated: 3 April 2024

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