This quick guide covers eviction rights and right to rent provisions. It is intended to support advisors and those working with families subject to immigration controls to navigate right to rent. This guide was current as at November 2023.
What is right to rent?
Private landlords are prohibited from rented to those without a right to rent in the UK. It places an onus on the landlord to check someone's status and that they are eligible to rent, this includes people who take in a lodger. This extends to everyone on the tenancy / rental agreement. These checks do not include social housing, refuges and hostels, accommodation for asylum seekers, accommodation under the children act and care act and certain education accommodation like student halls. People can have either;
An unlimited right to rent (British Nationals, someone with indefinite leave to remain, settled status (EUSS), or people with no time limit on their residence in the UK)
A time limited right to rent (People with a time limited form of leave to remain (Refugee status, limited leave to remain, study / work / spousal visas, pre settled status (EUSS), any other time limited forms of leave to remain).
Permission to rent (when the Home Office has granted a time limited right to rent to someone who would otherwise have no right to rent).
No right to rent (someone who does not have leave to enter or remain in the UK and who should have it)
What is the impact of right to rent?
The impact of right to rent can be far reaching and in some cases can cause discrimination against people on the basis of their nationality or perception of their status in the UK. Some of the examples we have included below comes from our casework.
People who do not have a right to rent may find it hard to rent, or may be forced into renting properties or rooms that are unsuitable, unsafe, or exploitative from unsafe landlords.
The scheme also has the potential to restrict renting to people who may have a right to rent. This could occur if the landlord does not have the right knowledge to understand if someone does not have a right to rent, or for instance, creating a situation where landlords will only rent to people with a British passport through fear of the penalties of getting it wrong.
A landlord ordinarily must give proper notice and follow a set process to remove someone from an accommodation. More information about this is available on Shelter legal. This rights are generally different if someone lives in the same accommodation as their landlord and some other forms of excluded occupier. This can get quite complicated and we recommend the Shelter eviction resources as a good starting point.
In general when it comes to standard eviction rights;
In private rent generally a landlord must give proper notice and then follow the process to obtain a possession and then eviction order.
Excluded occupiers (rent free accommodation, holiday lets, live in landlord etc) have less rights - The landlord should still give notice, but can then peaceably evict after that notice period. There are not strict limits on how much notice must be given, nor does it have to be delivered in writing.
How does right to rent affect eviction rights?
Right to rent can change what eviction rights someone has and the process a landlord has to use to end a tenancy. If a landlord establishes that someone has no right to rent, or their right to rent has changed since they initially rented the accommodation to them they are required to take steps to end the tenancy.
Eviction where one person has a right to rent and someone else on the tenancy is excluded
In this instance, the landlord has to take steps to end the tenancy. There is a mandatory possession ground which can be used to take possession of the property by possession order for assured tenancies.
The landlord will need to follow the usual eviction process.
Where no-one in the accommodation has a right to rent
Where noone in accommodation has a right to rent a landlord must use the eviction process unless there is a set criteria met. If the criteria is met, a landlord can evict without a court order peaceably.
The criteria is found at Section 33d(7) of the Immigration Act 2014;
No-one in the accommodation has a right to rent. AND;
The Home Office has served a disqualification notice on the landlord.
If both of these criteria are satisfied, then the landlord can evict without going through the eviction process and obtaining an order peaceably (s33D(3) Immigration Act 2014; sch.1 Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Termination of Residential Tenancy Agreements) (Guidance etc.) Regulations 2016/1060.). The landlord can give minimum notice of 28 days to leave the accommodation as part of this process and the disqualification notice from the Home Office must be attached to the notice. This takes the effect of an order from the High Court, so a landlord can also enforce it by applying for a writ of possession from the High Court (para 5A, rule 83.9 Civil Procedure Rules.).
Casework approach when working with families affected by the right to rent provisions facing eviction
If someone has no right to rent
If someone is caught by the right to rent provisions they will almost certainly not be able to access Universal Credit, social housing and other public funds due to their immigration status. For families, they may be able to access support under Section 17 Children Act 1989 if they cannot meet their accommodation needs and experiencing destitution. This would involve making a referral to the local authority children's services department, or you could speak to a specialist service to support the family to make this approach.
People without a right to rent are also likely to be caught by the exclusions of Section 54 / Schedule 3, Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 as if they do not have a right to rent, they will most likely not have leave to remain or enter. This has the effect of excluding them from children's services support unless there is a legal or practical barrier (a human rights reason) which prevents them leaving the UK. A local authority will need to undertake a human rights assessment as part of this process.
In any event, in the event of a no notice eviction, a local authority should provide emergency support pending the completion of their enquiries.
We have produced a guide about accessing Section 17 support, which includes a resource co-written with Project 17, Hackney Migrant Centre and others for families accessing Section 17 support.
It is important that someone gets immigration advice from a qualified provider as soon as possible if they do not have leave to remain.
If they are wrong and they do have a right to rent
If someone does have a right to rent and it has been wrongly applied, a family should seek advice immediately. This could be from a housing solicitor or a housing advice service such as shelter.