Right to Rent: Changes for EU Nationals
The government has made a further announcement on the 18 June 2021 concerning the Right to Rent: Changes for EU Nationals. The announcement confirmed that the temporary adjustments for right to rent checks in England (which were due to end on the 20 June 2021) will now end at the end of August 2021 to align with the UK Government’s announcement on the 14 June 2021 to extend the date for the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures.
Until the 31 August 2021 the adjusted right to rent checks can be used. From the 01 September 2021, landlords or agents must either:
1. Check the applicant’s original documents; or
2. Check the applicant’s right to rent online (if the applicant has given you their share code).
Changes from the 01 July 2021 for EU Nationals
Landlords and agents (acting on the landlord’s behalf) in England are required to carry out “right to rent” checks on prospective new tenants to ensure they have the right to be in the UK. Landlords can face an unlimited fine or imprisonment for a period of five years if they do not carry out these checks correctly and allow properties to be occupied by people who are disqualified from renting.
Before the UK left the EU, EU nationals were treated as British nationals and only needed to provide evidence of their nationality for an automatic right to rent in the UK. Now that the UK has left the EU (which has ended free movement law in the UK), most EU nationals no longer have an automatic right to rent.
The Government has introduced new regulations changing how right to rent checks are carried out for EU nationals. These changes affect tenancies signed from the 01 July 2021 and any follow-up checks carried out after this date.
EU Settlement Scheme
Since December 2020 (when the UK left the EU), there has been a grace period where EU nationals, nationals from the European Economic Area (‘EEA’) and/or Swiss nationals have been able to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for these applications is the 30 June 2021.
Settled Status/Unlimited right to rent
If an EU, EEA national and/or Swiss citizen is granted settled status, they have an unlimited right to rent, no further checks are required.
Pre-settled Status/Time-limited right to rent
If an EU, EEA national and/or Swiss citizen is granted pre-settled status, they have a time-limited right to rent, and landlords or agents (on the landlord’s behalf) will have to carry out follow-up checks after 12 months or just before the end of the leave to remain (whichever is later).
In November 2020, a new procedure was introduced for nationals of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Nationals of these countries need only show a passport together with a document (such as a boarding pass) showing entry into the UK within the last six months in order to rent. This scheme is now extended to include EEA nationals.
Online Checks and Physical Documents
The Home Office may issue EU, EEA nationals and/or Swiss citizens evidence of their immigration status digitally, in which case landlords and agents can only use the Home Office online service to prove their right to rent.
Some EU, EEA nationals and/or Swiss citizens will hold physical documents of their immigration status. Landlords and agents will need to see the original documents, check these in the presence of the holder of the documents and make copies. Copies should be kept securely and in accordance with data protection law for the length of the tenancy agreement plus one year after.
For further information the Home Office has published guidance for landlords and letting agents on right to rent checks which can be found here .
As the changes do not come into force until the 01 July 2021, the template Right to Rent Checklist for Residential Landlord and template Right to Rent Checklist for Lettings Agency will be updated once these changes are in force.