According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), thousands of EU nationals are at risk of losing their rental properties due to uncertainty about their status post-Brexit.
With Brexit fast approaching, there are a number of immigration anxieties causing huge uncertainty, despite the Home Office currently developing a new user-friendly scheme.
Under the 2014 Immigration Act, all EU nationals automatically have the right to rent property in the UK. Unless the law is changed, this will stand, whether they are currently in the UK or come to the UK subsequent to the UK leaving the EU.
Data from the RLA claims that 66% of EU nationals, excluding those from the Republic of Ireland, live in private rental housing. The organisation is concerned about a lack of detail that a no Brexit deal will have on EU nationals, including their rights to rent property in this country.
The 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.”
He insists: “We need clarity as swiftly as possible.”
The RLA is today writing to the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, to raise its concerns over the issue.
Satbir Singh, the Chief Executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (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 tenant’s immigration status.
“JCWI’s research demonstrates that landlords will not go through complex immigration checks, online forms, or telephone helplines to check up on someone’s status, when they could just rent to someone with a British passport instead.”
He adds: “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.”
A legal challenge of the Government’s Right to Rent scheme, led by the JCWI, has been set for December.