From 1st July there will be changes to Right to Rent Checks in England. These changes come as a result of Brexit, which has ended free movement between the UK and the EU. Previously EU, EEA & Swiss nationals only had to provide evidence of their nationality to gain an automatic right to rent in the UK, however now that the UK has left the EU, this automatic right has been abolished. On 1st January 2021, a grace period of six months began which allowed EU, EEA, Swiss citizens and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This period ended on 30th June 2021 and from then, all EEA & Swiss nationals need to provide evidence of their UK immigration status, rather than just their national identification, to be allowed the right to rent in the UK.
What are Right to Rent Checks?
A Right to Rent check is carried out to determine the immigration status on all prospective adult tenants. Landlords and agents are legally required to carry out these checks before the start of a tenancy, and this is most commonly done by checking a passport or residence document to confirm a tenant’s permission to be in the UK.
What are the Changes?
From 1st July 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss national citizens are required to hold an immigration status to rent in the UK, the same way as other foreign nationals, and can no longer rely on an EEA passport or ID card. To grant this immigration status the EU Settlement Scheme was introduced to allow EEA & Swiss nationals to apply for either ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status to continue living in the UK.
To attain settled status the applicant must have been residing in the UK continuously for at least a 5-year period. Once settled status is granted that person can remain in the UK indefinitely and will not need to reapply.
To obtain pre-settled status the applicant must have been residing in the UK before the 31st of December 2020. It is a time-limited right to remain in the UK, and is granted for 5-years. Someone who holds pre-settled status will need to apply for settled status once this 5-year period comes to an end (at the point that they will have been living in the UK for a continuous 5-year period and therefore qualify for settled status).
These changes do not affect Irish Nationals who can continue to rely on their passport for Right to Rent checks.
What about Existing Tenants?
The government has made it clear that the new code of practise only applies to initial Right to Rent checks and therefore there will be no need to retrospectively check the status of any EU, EEA or Swiss tenants, or their family members who had a satisfactory Right to Rent check before 30th June 2021.
Proving Immigration Status
From December 2020 the Home Office started issuing evidence of immigration status digitally, making checks significantly simpler. In cases where the applicant holds digital proof of their right to rent, they will provide a ‘share code’ to their landlord/agent which can be input, along with their date of birth, into the Home Office online right to rent service. The service will then clearly display the applicants right to rent and whether any follow up checks are required.
However, this checking service only supports checks on those who hold a biometric residence permit, residence card, or a status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme. Therefore, this leaves some EEA & Swiss citizens who will still hold physical documents of their immigration status, in which case the landlord/agent will need to do an old-fashioned check of the original documents in the presence of the applicant. In all cases evidence of any Right to Rent checks should be kept for the length of the tenancy agreement plus one year.