Can a Landlord Refuse to Rent to Someone Based on Their Immigration Status?

If you believe you have been discriminated against, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you on the basis of race or nationality. All landlords in England have a responsibility to prevent people without legal immigration status from accessing the private rental sector. To do this, landlords must verify the right to rent for all potential adult tenants before the effective date of the lease agreement. Landlords who rent residential premises to adults without properly verifying their right to rent may be sanctioned with a civil penalty.

Private landlords must prove that the occupant has the right to rent based on their immigration status before the tenancy or license begins. It is possible that, once the landlord has been informed that you have no “right to rent”, the Home Office will attempt to take coercive action against you. To do this, you must ask the tenant for the original documents to prove that they can live in the UK. A tenant or occupier “has no right to rent” if they are not a citizen of the United Kingdom, the EEA or Switzerland and need a residence permit in the United Kingdom that has not yet been granted, or if they are in the United Kingdom on the condition that they are not entitled to occupy a premises. Performing any of these checks, as set out in this guide and in the independent code of practice, will provide the landlord with a legal excuse not to be responsible for a civil penalty if it is later discovered that the landlord rented to someone without legal immigration status.

If you rent a room to a tenant, you need to prove their right to rent, unless the landlord says they will. Then send a request for information to ask the landlord to provide proof that the checks were performed. Check the government website for the types of documents you can use to prove your right to rent in the UK. The landlord has a defense if the person had a limited-time rental right and is still in the eligibility period. The law requires all landlords in England to prove their “right to rent” before leasing their property to a potential adult tenant.

If during follow-up your tenant is unable to demonstrate their right to rent, you must report this to the Ministry of Interior using their online form. You can use your passport or an immigration document to prove your right to rent if you show that you have permission from the Home Office to be in the UK. Once the tenant has provided their documents, they should check them to see if they are entitled to rent. You should get immigration advice if they tell you that you don't have the right to rent or that your permit to live in the UK has expired. It is advisable to set deadlines for carrying out checks and informing owners, which will be specified in contracts.

When an initial check determines that a person has no right to rent, landlords must refuse to enter into a lease agreement.

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