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When moving to the UK, you’re going to need to figure out where you’re going to live. Most people choose to rent when they first move to the UK, and organising a place to live when you’re thousands of kilometres away can be quite tricky. What’s more, since 1 February 2016, all new tenants have to prove to their landlord that they have the right to rent a property in the UK.

Door with house key chain

You might be wondering, “How on earth do I go about proving I have the right to rent?” Fair enough! However, it is much easier than many people think. Just follow the steps listed below and you’ll be well on your way to renting your own place in the UK.

Who needs to be “rent checked”?

Landlords take the right to rent checks very seriously, as they can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to five years if they rent out their property to someone who isn’t allowed to rent in the UK. All tenants over the age of 18 (British citizens and non-citizens) need to be checked before they can legally rent any kind of residential property in the UK.

If a tenant sub-lets a property, they are responsible for conducting the right to rent check. The sub-lessor will be liable for any civil penalties as a result of not doing the check correctly; so tread carefully if you decide to sub-let.

What does the right to rent check entail?

The right to rent check has to be conducted while you are present in the UK. The landlord will have a form from the Home Office, which they will use to check your documentation. You will have to provide original documents to your landlord and they will need to make copies of each document you provide.

How to get an unlimited right to rent

An unlimited right to rent means that you can rent in the UK for an unlimited amount of time, i.e. you are not required to leave the UK after a specified amount of time. This generally applies to British citizens and those who hold indefinite leave to remain or right of abode.

You will have an unlimited right to rent if you hold any one of the following documents:

  • A UK passport
  • An EU or Swiss national passport or identity card
  • A registration certificate or document certifying permanent residence of an EU/Swiss national
  • An EU/Swiss family member permanent residence card
  • A biometric residence permit with unlimited leave
  • A passport or travel document endorsed with unlimited leave
  • A UK immigration status document endorsed with unlimited leave
  • A certificate of naturalisation or registration as a British citizen

You will also have an unlimited right to rent if you hold any combination of two of the following documents:

  • A UK birth or adoption certificate
  • A full or provisional UK driver’s licence
  • A letter from HM Prison Service
  • A letter from a UK government department or local authority
  • A letter from National Offender Management Service
  • Evidence of current or previous service in UK armed forces
  • A letter from a police force confirming that certain documents have been reported stolen
  • A letter from a private rented sector access scheme
  • A letter of attestation from an employer
  • A letter from a UK further or higher education institution
  • A letter of attestation from a UK passport holder working in an acceptable profession
  • Benefits paperwork
  • Criminal record check

How to get a limited right to rent

If you are only allowed to rent in the UK for a limited time, your landlord will need to do the check 28 days before the start of your tenancy. You will need to sort out your accommodation as soon as possible to avoid having to stay in expensive hotels for longer than necessary.

In these situations, it helps to get advice from reliable service providers who can assist you in finding interim accommodation, as well as your ultimate UK home. 

To be granted a limited right to rent you must hold one of the following documents:

  • A valid passport endorsed with a time-limited period
  • A biometric immigration document with permission to stay for time-limited period
  • A non-EU national residence card
  • A UK immigration status document with a time-limited endorsement from Home Office

Accommodation exempt from the right to rent checks

Certain types of accommodation are exempt from the right to rent checks, including student accommodation, hostels, mobile homes and accommodation provided by your employer as part of your job (known as “tied accommodation”). With the exception of these types of accommodation, you will need to be prepared with the correct documentation for your right to rent check.


Our 1st Contact team can assist you with everything from finding accommodation in the UK to sorting out your UK bank account and NI number. Get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 20 7759 7536 or pop us an email on 1stcontact@sableinternational.com.

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