Brexit uncertainty puts EU nationals at risk of losing their homes, landlords group warns

Research shows 66 per cent of EU nationals living in the UK rent private housing

Caitlin Morrison
Friday 10 August 2018 12:31 BST
What does a no-deal Brexit mean?

EU nationals are at risk of losing their homes unless the government confirms their status post-Brexit, a landlords group has warned.

Under the 2014 Immigration Act all EU nationals automatically have the right to rent property in the UK. According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), 66 per cent of EU nationals (excluding those from Ireland) living in the UK reside in private rented housing.

The RLA also said that with a no-deal Brexit looking more likely than ever, renters and landlords need clarity on what that would mean for EU nationals’ rights to rent property.

The group warned that, without official advice, landlords will not know if they should continue tenancies coming up for renewal or agree new ones for EU citizens.

It has called on the government, in a letter to Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, to issue guidance “as a matter of urgency” on the rights EU nationals will have to rent property both before and after the UK leaves the EU, including in a no-deal scenario.

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. We need clarity as swiftly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants criticised the government for its “incomprehensible” refusal to give EU citizens who apply for settled status a document proving their right to live in the UK after Brexit, “particularly in light of the hostile environment that requires landlords to check their tenants immigration status”.

Mr Singh said research carried out by the JCWI showed that landlords will not go through complex immigration checks, online forms, or telephone helplines to check someone’s status, when they could just rent to someone with a British passport instead.

“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.

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.”

The spokesperson added that the EU Settlement Scheme, which is the system through which EU citizens will apply for ‘settled status’ after June 2021, will “make it easy for EU citizens to get the status they need, when they need it”.

“It will be opened on a phased basis from later this year and offer a streamlined, user-friendly way for EU citizens to obtain their status.”

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