The future for EU nationals renting in the UK

According to the UK based group, Residential Landlords Association (RLA), 66% of EU nationals living in the UK are currently living in privately rented housing. Currently, under the 2014 Immigration Act, all EU nationals automatically have the right to rent properties. But, with the prospect of a “no deal Brexit” looking ever more likely, what will this mean going forward? And will the rights of EU nationals already renting in the UK be affected?

The RLA has recently warned that the growing uncertainty over Brexit could be putting EU nationals at risk of losing their homes. The group has urged the government to confirm the status of these individuals post-Brexit. Otherwise, it could mean landlords being unsure as to whether they can renew tenancies that are due for renewal.

Both renters and landlords need clarification on what their rights will be in terms of renting next year. In a letter to Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, the RLA has called on the government to provide some official guidance “as a matter of urgency”. If a no-deal scenario were to go ahead, it could cause major problems for landlords and renters.

Policy director for the RLA, David Smith, noted: “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.”

The government has been criticised further by Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. He recently described the government’s policies as “incomprehensible”. He said that, “particularly in light of the hostile environment that requires landlords to check their tenants immigration status”, it’s unreasonable to expect landlords to go through complex immigration checks and forms. “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,” he added.

In response to this, a Home Office spokesperson said: “EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society and we have been clear from the beginning of this process that we want these citizens and their families in the UK to be able to stay.”

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