Immigration checks

As part of new laws introduced in 2014, landlords are required to check their tenants' immigration status before granting a tenancy agreement, to make sure that the tenant has a 'right to rent'.  You have a right to rent if:

  • You are an EEA/Swiss national; or
  • You have the right to be in the UK under EEA law (for example because you are the family member of an EEA/Swiss national); or
  • You have valid immigration permission to be in the UK; or
  • You do not have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but you have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government (this only applies in exceptional circumstances).

'Valid' immigration permission means that your leave has not expired.

This requirement is being introduced in phases: from 1 December 2014 it will apply to properties in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.  If you live elsewhere in the UK then you can disregard this information.

To check whether your property is in an affected area use the postcode checking tool for landlords on the Home Office website.

It will only apply to tenancy agreements that are entered into on or after 1 December 2014.  If you already live in a property in one of the affected areas before this date then your landlord is not required to carry out these checks.  They also do not have to carry out these checks when you renew your tenancy agreement, if your living arrangement has not changed during this period.

Additionally, you will not be subject to a right to rent check if any of the following points apply to you:

  • You live in an exempt property. This includes student halls of residence; accommodation owned and managed by a higher or further education institution, or a body established for charitable purposes only; and accommodation that you have been nominated to occupy by such an institution, or charitable body. Full details of exempt properties can be found in section 3.7 of the Home Office's guide for landlords.
  • You are under 18 when you enter into the tenancy agreement; you will remain exempt until the landlord's next set of checks are due, even if you turn 18 during this time.
  • You are not using the property as your main or only home in the UK.
  • The landlord is your immediate family, such as a parent.
  • You are a guest in the property, you do not pay rent to stay there and it is not your only or main home in the UK.
  • The property is holiday accommodation, such as a hotel, and you will be staying there for only a short period of time.

If you are subject to a right to rent check then your landlord, (or the property agent if you are not dealing directly with your landlord), will need to see original evidence of your right to be in the UK:

EEA / Swiss nationals
 Passport or national identity card
Family members of EEA / Swiss nationals
EEA family permit or residence card
People with immigration permission to be in the UK

Passport containing a valid visa, or a valid Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If these documents are with the Home Office as part of an ongoing immigration application (or you have a pending appeal or administrative review) then you should give your landlord your Home Office reference number so that they can verify this with the Home Office.

For a full list of acceptable documents, see section 5.2 of the Home Office's guide for landlords.

Your landlord (or property agent), should take a copy of these documents and return the originals to you.  If you arrange your accommodation before you arrive in the UK then your landlord (or property agent) will check your right to rent before you move into the property.  A right to rent check cannot be carried out more than 28 days before the start of your tenancy agreement.

If you have limited immigration permission to be in the UK then your landlord must check your immigration permission again after 12 months, or before your immigration permission expires, whichever is later.  If your right to rent expires, for example if you become an overstayer, then your landlord will report this to the Home Office.  Your landlord is not required to evict you but the Home Office may take action against you.

If you sub-let your accommodation (for example during vacation periods) or you have a lodger, then you will be considered to be a landlord and will be required to carry out right to rent checks.  You should discuss this with your landlord (or property agent), beforehand to make sure that your tenancy agreement allows you to sub-let your accommodation and to agree who will take responsibility for conducting these checks.  This agreement should be in writing.

If you have any questions or concerns about the right to rent checks then contact the student adviser at your institution, or if you do not have a student adviser, phone our advice line.