21st October 2019

Right To Rent

In England, landlords are required to check their tenants' immigration status before granting a tenancy agreement. This will apply to all students who are renting in the private sector. University owned & nominated accommodation is exempt. Some private 'student halls of residence' will also be exempt.

  1. You have a right to rent if
  2. When is a right to rent check not needed?
  3. What documents are required?
  4. What happens next?

You have a right to rent if:

  • You are a British Citizen or 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 e.g. Tier 4 student visa; 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, please note that if your current visa has expired but you have made an in time application to extend it, then you have Section 3C leave until a decision is made. This means that you remain legally resident in the UK.

When is a right to rent check not needed?

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. 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.

What documents are required?

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: Current passport containing a valid visa, or a valid Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
  • The Home Office has confirmed that landlords can accept the 30 day vignette/sticker in a passport as proof of your Right to Rent. This would allow you to move in to a property before you have collected the BRP. The landlord may then ask to check and take a copy of your BRP once you have collected it.

If your documents are with the Home Office, as part of an ongoing immigration application, then you should give your Home Office reference number to your landlord your so they can verify this with the Home Office.

If you have difficulty providing the above documents then you can provide your landlord with a combination of other documents as evidence of your right to rent, such as a current UK driving licence and a student status certificate. See section 5.2. of the Home Office's guide for landlords for a full list of acceptable documents.

What happens next?

Your landlord 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 will need to check your right to rent before you move into the property. If you cannot provide the required evidence of your immigration permission, the landlord may not allow you to move in. A right to rent check cannot be carried out more than 28 days before you enter into a tenancy agreement with your landlord.

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. You do not need to show that you have leave to remain for the full duration of the tenancy just that you have a valid immigration status when the right to rent check is carried out. Some landlords seem to be confused about this and we have heard of people being refused tenancies on this basis. Please contact us for further advice if you encounter this problem.

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.

Landlords can be fined £3000 if they rent to someone without immigration permission to be in the UK, so they could be reluctant to let to people if there is any doubt about their immigration status. It is illegal to discriminate against you based on race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.If you have any questions or concerns about the’ right to rent’ checks or finding private sector accommodation, then please contact the Student Advice Centre via advice@sheffield.ac.uk and also visit the University’s private sector accommodation website.