The government has finally issued guidance for landlords on right to rent checks for EU citizens in post-Brexit Britain.
Under right to rent landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK.
Landlords and letting agents have been told they should continue to conduct right to rent checks on EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the same way as now, usually by checking and making a copy of an EEA national’s passport or identity card, until 1 January 2021.
If the prospective tenant does not have a passport or identity card there is a list of approved documents which are also valid. This can be found here.
The arrangement remains the same if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, with the government also confirming landlords will notneed to check if new EEA and Swiss tenants arrived before or after the UK left the EU, or if they have status under the EU Settlement Scheme or European temporary leave to remain.
There will also be no requirement to retrospectively check the status of EU, EEA or Swiss tenants or their family members who entered into a tenancy agreement before 1 January 2021.
Irish citizens will continue to have the right to rent in the UK and prove their right to rent as they do now, for example using their passport.
As is currently the case, in order for a landlord to obtain a statutory excuse from a civil penalty when letting to the non-EEA family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, the prospective tenant will need to showHome Office issued documentation as set out in the legislation and guidance.
The government plans to introduce a new single immigration system from 1 January 2021 and the Home Office said new guidance on how to carry out right to rent checks after this date will be issued in due course.
Earlier this year the High Court ruled the right to rent scheme breaches human rights law.
The RLA intervened in a case brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to have the policy declared as incompatible with human rights on the grounds it was leading to discrimination against non-UK nationals who might be in the country legitimately and British ethnic minorities.
The government is currently appealing the decision.