The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling on the government to issue guidance as a matter of urgency on the rights that EU nationals will have to rent property both before and after the UK leaves the EU, including under a no deal Brexit.
Without such advice, landlords will not know if they should continue tenancies coming up for renewal or agree new ones for EU nationals.
The RLA is calling also for a commitment that no changes will be made to their right to rent without at least 18 months’ notice to give landlords and tenants plenty of time to prepare.
David Smith, RLA policy director, said: “Landlords and tenants need urgent clarification from the Government on the rights that EU nationals will have to rent property immediately after the UK leaves the EU, especially in the event of a no deal Brexit.
“Without this, and without a commitment that no changes will be made to the ability of EU citizens to rent property without at least 18 months’ notice, landlords will find themselves unable to decide if tenancies should be renewed and new ones created for EU citizens. We need clarity as swiftly as possible.”
European Union citizens living in the UK run the risk of losing their rental homes without swift confirmation of their status post-Brexit.
An analysis of government data by the Residential Landlords Association suggests that 66% of EU nationals (excluding those from the Republic of Ireland) live in private rented housing.
Under the 2014 Immigration Act all EU nationals automatically have the right to rent property in the UK. Unless the law is changed, this will continue to be the case, whether they are currently in the UK or come after the UK leaves the EU.
With preparations for a no deal Brexit being ramped, the RLA is warning that swift clarity is needed about what that would mean for EU nationals’ rights to rent UK property.
Under the government’s right to rent policy, landlords face the threat of potential criminal sanctions where 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.
The RLA is calling for action now to avoid a repeat of the recent scandal over the Windrush generation by ensuring that EU nationals who have the right to rent can easily prove it to their landlord.
The RLA is today writing to the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, to raise its concerns over the issue.
Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The government’s refusal to give EU citizens who apply for settled status a document proving their right to live in the UK after Brexit is incomprehensible.
“Particularly in light of the hostile environment that requires landlords to check their tenants immigration status.
“JCWI’s research demonstrates that landlords will not go through complex immigration checks, online forms, or telephone helplines to check up on someone’s status, when they could just rent to someone with a British passport instead.
“Landlords cannot be expected to act as border guards, and to ask them to do so is to play with the lives and livelihoods of immigrants and ethnic minorities. It must stop.”