Right to rent in the UK

Since 1 February 2016, all landlords have to check your immigration status gives you the right to rent in the UK, before granting a tenancy agreement. If you have time limited leave, the check has to be done 28 days before the tenancy starts and every 12 months thereafter. If you will be living in University of Essex halls of residence you will be exempt from the right to rent check.

A tenancy agreement is a contract between the tenant and the landlord. It is very important that you read and fully understand the document before you agree to sign it. Don’t feel pressured to sign an agreement immediately. It should be possible to take the agreement away with you in order to read through it and if you wish, get it checked at the Advice Centre before you sign.


The following groups of people have the right to rent in the UK:

  • a British Citizen
  • an EEA/Swiss national
  • those who have the right to be in the UK under EEA law (eg because you're the family member of an EEA/Swiss national)
  • those who have valid UK immigration permission
  • those who don't have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but who have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government (this only applies in exceptional circumstances)
Exemptions from the right to rent check

You won't need to be checked if one of the following applies to you:

  • you live in an exempt property, which includes:
    • accommodation owned or managed by a higher education or further education institution
    • a body established for charitable purposes only
    • accommodation you have been nominated to occupy by an institution or charitable body
  • you aren't using the property as your main or only home in the UK
  • the landlord is immediate family, such as your parent
  • you're a guest in a property and you don't pay rent to stay there and it's not your only or main home in the UK
  • the property is holiday accommodation, such as a hotel and you will only be staying there for a short time
  • you're under the age of 18

Read the Home Office code of practice for more information about exemption from the checks.

If you're going to live in private accommodation, your landlord is required to check your immigration status within 28 days of the tenancy start date if you have limited leave to remain and you're 18 or over. The University can't confirm to a landlord what your immigration status is and it wouldn’t be acceptable evidence for a right to rent check. Instead, the following user guide shows you what documents are required.

·Right to rent document checks: a user guide

If you have a visa that has a time limit, you will have to show your passport and your Entry Clearance vignette or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as proof of your immigration status. It may be difficult to arrange to rent a property from overseas as the landlord won't be able to carry out the full checks and grant a tenancy in advance of 28 days of the tenancy starting. They may agree to make initial checks via Skype but the landlord must still carry out in person checks within 28 days of tenancy starting. If you're planning to rent accommodation in the private sector for yourself and your family, we recommend that you travel to the UK first to arrange suitable accommodation. You will then be able to check the accommodation is suitable before your family join you and before entering into a tenancy agreement.

If you have an unlimited right to rent, for instance indefinite leave to remain, you can use a Certificate of Registration which will confirm your registered student status in conjunction with another acceptable document, as listed in the Home Office right to rent document check user guide above. You can request a Certificate of Registration online via your MyEssex portal. It must be no more than three months old at the time of the landlord's check..

Your prospective landlord can contact the Home Office’s landlords checking service for verification of your right to rent, using an online form. It should take two working days for them to receive a response. The response will tell them if you have the right to rent in the UK..

If your tenancy allows you to sub-let, please be aware that those who sub-let or have a lodger become landlords and will be required to undertake the right to rent checks.

Essential Reading

Further information

If you're an Essex student or applicant and need advice please contact us. Landlords should contact their legal representative or the Home Office Landlords Checking Service.