Right to Rent: Renting From a Private Landlord
From 1 February 2016, it is a legal requirement for private landlords or their agents to check that a tenant can legally live in the UK and rent a private property or rent a room in the same house as a private landlord. This is called a ‘right to rent check’.
New requirements on the 'right to rent' from a private landlord
- This requirement applies to all private tenants aged 18 years or over, regardless of nationality
- Tenants who sublet a room or rooms are also responsible for carrying out these checks and should seek further advice. See the contacts listed under ‘Further information’.
What does this mean for students renting from a private landlord?
Any student entering a tenancy agreement for privately rented accommodation after 1st February 2016 must confirm that they have the legal right to live in the UK before the landlord can issue a written or verbal agreement to rent a property or a room out. This is called a ‘right to rent check’.
- A right to rent check cannot be carried out more than 28 days before you enter a contract or reach a verbal agreement to rent from a private landlord
- The ‘right to rent’ must take place when you are present
- The landlord or their agent must take a copy of the required document and record the date of the right to rent check on the document and return the original document to you
- To prove you can rent, you must provide documents listed in the government user guide
Students in University College accommodation or purpose built student accommodation
These requirements do not apply to students living in university college accommodation. Private accommodation specifically built for students is also exempt from the ‘right to rent' requirement.
Q: I want to apply for private accommodation my home country before my visa is issued or before I have arrived at the University. Can I agree a contract with a private landlord?
If you are arranging accommodation from your home country or if you are living away from the University, the landlord or agent could provide you with a conditional agreement to rent the private property on the basis that you will provide valid documents to comply with the right to rent check, before you sign the formal contract and move into the property.
Additional guidance for non-European Union nationals renting privately
Q: I hold a visa that is valid for a limited time, can I rent private accommodation?
Yes, the landlord can issue you with a contract, providing you have a visa which is valid up to 28 days before you enter the contract.
Q: What documents does the landlord need from me?
The landlord will need to check that you have the legal right to live in the UK up to 28 days before you agree the housing contract. The landlord will also have to check your immigration status again within 12 months of the date of this check or, before your visa expires whichever is the latest date. Any of the following documents should be accepted:
- A valid passport endorsed with a time limit to remain in the UK
- A Biometric Residence Permit (card) which confirms the length of your visa and which is valid when your documents are checked
- Any other UK immigration documents which confirm your immigration status and the length of time you are allowed to remain in the UK
- To prove you can rent you must provide documents listed in the government user guide
Q: My visa application is with UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI). Can the landlord still issue me with a contract?
- If your visa application is still with UKVI, the landlord should complete an online form and ask the Home Office to check that you can rent the property. The landlord should then receive a response within two working days.
Q: Can the University Issue me with a letter to confirm that I have the right to rent?
The University is unable to provide letters for landlords confirming your immigration status because a letter from the University is not on the list of required documents for fulfilling the ‘right to rent’ check. Under the ‘Right to Rent’ rules, the landlord is responsible for checking specific documents in your presence confirming that you have the right to rent.
Q: I have provided the landlord with the required documents but they won’t provide me with a contract and say that they cannot let to international students.
Landlords have a legal requirement to act fairly and should treat all tenants in the same way, regardless of their nationality. If you feel that you are being unfairly treated because of your nationality, you can seek further advice. Refer to the services listed under ‘Further Information’ and the government code of practice for landlords on avoiding unlawful discrimination.
Home Office guidance for landlords:
- Checking your tenant's right to rent
- Right to rent document checks: a user guide
- Check if someone can rent your residential property (online form)
- Right to rent immigration checks: landlords' code of practice
Advice and support for students:
- The Student Immigration Office may be able to give further advice, if needed.
- The University Collegiate Office can assist applicants and students with queries regarding their application for College accommodation. Undergraduates can contact their College directly email@example.com. Postgraduates can contact their College directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The University Accommodation Office can help students and applicants with general house hunting advice and tips for privately rented accommodation.
- Durham Students Union Adviceand Help Service provides free, confidential and independent advice and information to all Durham University students on any matters including housing, academic and money issues . Part of the housing service includes a tenancy agreement checking service for students. Contact them at email@example.com, phone (0191) 3341777, or visit the service at Dunelm House.
You may also be able to access initial free confidential and independent advice through the following services: