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'Right to Rent' checks by landlords

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser, please click for information more relevant to you.

What are 'right to rent' checks?

If you apply for a rented home from a private landlord, you will have to prove your residency or immigration status. This is called having the 'right to rent'. This page explains how it works.

In England, your landlord must ask you to prove that you and every adult who will live you has a ‘right to rent’ before you move in. If your landlord fails to do this, they could be fined or prosecuted or both. These rules affect most kinds of residential agreements where rent is paid including tenancies, licences, lodging arrangements and sub-lets – although certain types of accommodation (e.g. student halls of residence, care homes) are exempt (see below).

Right to rent checks are very important:

  • Your tenancy can be ended if the Home Office notifies your landlord that you don’t have the ‘right to rent’.
  • Once notified, your landlord can evict you without a court order if you are the sole tenant, or can serve notice on you and get a court order if there are others who live with you that do have the right to rent.
  • If your landlord fails to take action once notified s/he can be prosecuted, and could also be prosecuted just for granting you a tenancy in the first place.

Do right to rent checks apply to all rented accommodation?

No. Some lettings are exempt and in these cases document checks are not required:

  • holiday accommodation of less than three months.
  • housing provided by local authorities through homelessness or allocations procedures (including most housing association homes)
  • care homes
  • hospitals, hospices and other healthcare provision
  • hostels and refuges
  • local authority accommodation for homeless people
  • Home Office accommodation for migrants
  • mobile homes
  • accommodation provided by an employer to an employee or trainee - sometimes called 'tied' accommodation
  • student accommodation where this is in a hall of residence, a home provided via a nomination by an educational institution or in a building used mainly for student accommodation and managed by an educational institution or similar or a charity.

Whose documents are checked?

Proof of right to rent is needed for all adults expecting to live in the home, including:

  • those who pay rent or other charges
  • anyone else allowed to live in the accommodation under the agreement with the landlord
  • anyone else living in the accommodation even if not named in the agreement, if the agreement allows it.

Who has the right to rent?

Before allowing you to move in, your landlord must ask you and any other adults who will live with you for proof that each of you is either:

  • a British citizen or Irish citizen
  • an EEA national (or an EEA family member) who has EU settled or pre-settled status – you can prove this by using the online service (see below)
  • a person with an indefinite ‘right to rent’: someone with indefinite leave to remain or right of abode in the UK
  • a person with a ‘time-limited right to rent’: someone who has limited leave to remain in the UK ; or
  • a person with a discretionary right to rent: this can be granted by the Home Office to people who apply for it because they have no other right to rent.

If you are an EEA national or EEA family member who does not have EU settled or pre-settled status or a time-limited right to rent (usually because you entered the UK after 31 December 2020), the same rules now apply to you as anyone from outside the EU (i.e. you need 'leave' or a discretionary right to rent to get a tenancy).

Anyone else, not in one of the groups listed, does not have a right to rent and should not be offered accommodation.

What else do you need to know about right to rent checks?

Right to rent requires you to show appropriate documents (e.g. a passport) or prove your right to rent online. You must use the online service if your immigration status has been confirmed electronically – see below.

If you cannot provide your documents because you have sent them to the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration) you can ask your landlord to confirm your right to rent using the online landlord checking service. Your landlord will need your Home Office reference number to do this. Your landlord should get confirmation within two working days.

If your documents are not a simple passport, you might want to find them in this online guide so you can point them out to a landlord and they can be checked more quickly. Any documents must be copied by the landlord and kept for at least 12 months after the tenancy ends.

You may be able to prove your right to rent online by getting a share code which your landlord can use to check your right to rent. You must use this method (and cannot use your paper documents, passport or residence card) to prove your right to rent if you:

Starting in summer 2024, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will phase out biometric residence permits/cards (BRP/BRC) and replace them with eVisas. You will need to create an online account to do this. From April 2024 UKVI will email BRP/BRC holders about how to create an online account.

If you have a time-limited right to rent, your landlord must make new checks after a year, or (if it is longer) just before your current period of leave or right to live in the UK expires. If the landlord then finds out that you have no current leave or right to live in the UK he must report it immediately to the Home Office. This does not affect your tenancy or other rights to live in the home.

Landlords and agents should not discriminate when they apply these rules. There is a code of practice to help make sure they do not. This means that they must check everyone’s documents, not just those of people who might look like migrants. If you believe that you have been discriminated against, you can find guidance about challenging it here.

Landlords can appoint an agent to do the checks for them.

If landlords are found to have rented to someone with no right to rent then they can be fined up and possibly sent to prison.

What about people who have lived in the UK for a long time?

The right to rent checks can affect people who are long-term residents of the UK but do not have documents to demonstrate their status. The Home Office has issued this advice for long-term residents:

'If a prospective tenant has lived in the UK permanently since before 1973 and has not been away for long periods in the last 30 years, they have the right to be here and to rent property
'If a prospective tenant came to the UK after 1 January 1973 then they might not have the automatic right to be here, but they may be allowed to stay here permanently and will have the right to rent property.'

It recommends landlords use the checking service if they are not sure about how this guidance may apply to prospective tenants. This guidance is vague but should mean that longer-term residents (for example, people originally from Commonwealth countries) should find landlords more ready to accept them without the documents that others may need to provide. You can get support from the Home Office Windrush Help Team or call them directly on 0800 678 1925, for example if you need to get new documents to prove your status. Or you can find a local immigration advice agency to help you.