What will happen to EU nationals’ right to rent after Brexit?

What will happen to EU nationals’ right to rent after Brexit?

All EU nationals have an automatic right to rent a home in the UK, but the government now needs to clarify the rules as the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is still on the cards.

As Britain’s imminent exit from the European Union looms, with the leave date set for March next year, industry bodies are calling on the government to take action urgently to clarify what the rules will be for those renting properties to EU nationals after the Brexit date.

The call comes after it was revealed that worrying numbers of landlords are already reluctant to let their properties to non-UK nationals due to fear of falling foul of existing Right to Rent rules, with almost half (48%) admitting they wouldn’t want to let their property to someone who didn’t hold a British passport. The existing legislation, which sets out that all prospective tenants must be checked by landlords for their eligibility to rent property in this country, has been criticised for encouraging discrimination within the sector.
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According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which is an active voice representing landlords and campaigning to improve the sector, an estimated 66% of EU nationals living in this country are living in rented housing. With the prospects of a no-deal Brexit on the cards, the concern is that landlords could preempt changes to existing rules for EU citizens renting here, and therefore not renew tenancies or set up new ones for such tenants to avoid facing issues further down the line.

Challenging the Right to Rent policy

While the Right to Rent rules have already caused issues for the Windrush generation, the RLA thinks the government needs to set out its intentions now for landlords renting to EU nationals in order to prevent a repeat situation.

RLA policy director David Smith 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.”

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has also launched a legal challenge against Right to Rent legislation, which will be heard at the High Court in December this year.

Satbir Singh, chief executive of the JCWI, 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.”

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