“Right to rent”: falling through the gaps?

If you are entering into a new tenancy agreement after 1 February, your landlord could ask you to prove that you have immigration permission to be in the UK. The new rules were introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, and the government is calling the scheme the “right to rent”. According to the government, people who don’t have permission to be in the UK should not be allowed to rent property here.

If you have a UK visa or residence permit you will probably be aware that there are a number of ways that you could lose your permission to be in the UK. There are other situations where you might have a right to be here but no papers to prove it.

This post is about how the Home Office is proposing to deal with some of those situations.

Section 3C leave

If your visa is coming to an end you would usually apply for more leave before it expires. As long as you do this, your leave is extended while the Home Office makes a decision under Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971.

However, since you have just made an application, you won’t have your passport, or a visa or residence permit, because you sent those to the Home Office.

The 28-day rule

After your leave in the UK expires, you can still apply for permission to stay within 28 days of the end date of your last visa. However, you are still in the UK unlawfully until your case is decided (which could take months). Not only will you not have your identity documents, but you will actually be an overstayer during that time.

European residence rights

If you’re the family member of an EEA national who is working in the UK, you have an automatic right of residence. However, unless you apply for a residence card, then you won’t have a way to prove it to a landlord.

British citizens

Some people have a claim to British citizenship that requires registration. The law can be difficult to understand and some people apply for citizenship without realising that their application won’t extend their leave in the UK. If you are in this position then you may become an overstayer and have no documents to prove your identity or status.

Checking

The Home Office has created a checking site for landlords in these tricky situations. The Home Office is meant to be able to confirm whether a person has a right to rent within 2 working days.

When you submit an application it can take some time for the Home Office to register it on their systems, so it is possible that a check could come back negative even if it should be clear.

In other circumstances the Home Office may give a person the right to rent, even if they would not otherwise have it. However, the guidance to immigration officers refers to a very limited list of people who might qualify for this permission, such as people in the family returns process, or people on bail.

For existing tenants who can’t produce their documents at the point of a re-check, the instruction is that the landlord must “report” to the Home Office.

For guidance about documents you can produce to prove a right to rent, or if you have a question about the checking process, contact me.

 

 

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