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Ending a tenancy due to immigration status

This information only applies in England.

If your tenant or lodger doesn't have the right to rent, their landlord must take reasonable steps to evict them. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines and prison sentences.

Last reviewed 25 October 2022.

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Having a right to rent means that a tenant or lodger is legally allowed to rent private accommodation in England. This right is based on a person’s immigration status. It might be a permanent right to rent or a time-limited right to rent (eg for those on work or study visas). For more information, read Right to rent.

If you know or reasonably believe that someone in your rented property doesn't have the right to rent because of their immigration status (ie they are 'disqualified from renting') you will have to follow certain steps to end the tenancy.

Landlords have an obligation to carry out follow-up checks of a tenant’s right to rent if the tenant has a time-limited right to rent. This can help landlords to discover that a tenant is disqualified from renting. 

As a landlord or letting agent, you may have the following options to end a tenancy:

  • if multiple people live in the property where some are (or are reasonably believed to be) disqualified from renting and others do (or are reasonably believed to) have the right to rent, you can mutually agree with the disqualified person(s) that they will leave the property. This is the easiest route to ending a tenancy. Landlords should ensure that the tenants put their agreement in writing so that, if necessary, the landlord can provide evidence that this solution was used

  • arrange the surrender of the tenancy by mutual agreement. This is when both the landlord and the tenant (or all of the tenants if there are multiple) agree to end the tenancy early.

  • rely on a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person (or a ‘disqualification notice’) to begin the eviction process. Disqualification notices can be requested from the Home Office, or they may be sent to landlords without the landlord having requested them. The process changes depending on whether the notice names all the occupiers or only some of them

  • evict the tenant by using the usual Section 21 or Section 8 eviction procedures

As long as the landlord can show that they are actively pursuing one of these steps to end the tenancy, they will be considered to have taken reasonable steps and, therefore, to have fulfilled their legal obligations. For more information, read the Government’s guidance on taking reasonable steps.

The Home Office may send a Notice of Letting to a Disqualified Person (ie a ‘disqualification notice’) to notify a landlord that a person in their property doesn't have the right to rent. This notice is extremely important and should be kept safe in case it’s required for future evidence.

When the landlord receives this notice, they must take reasonable steps to evict the disqualified person(s). This notice gives the landlord immigration grounds for evicting a tenant and, in some circumstances, may allow a landlord to evict the tenant without a court order.

If the disqualification notice names all the occupiers

If the notice contains the names of all of the persons living at the property then the landlord should either: 

  • arrange the surrender of the tenancy by mutual agreement, or 

  • serve the appropriate prescribed notice (known as a Section 33D(3) notice), giving the tenant(s) 28 days' notice to leave the property. The disqualification notice should be included with the prescribed notice

If the disqualified persons don't leave by that time (ie the expiry of the Section 33D(3) notice), the landlord can apply to court and ask for High Court enforcement officers to evict the tenant(s). Alternatively, they can exclude the disqualified persons from the property peacefully (without going through the courts) by, for example, changing the locks.

If the disqualification notice names some (but not all) of the occupiers

If the notice only names some occupiers as disqualified persons the landlord can, as an easier first option, try to: 

  • ask and agree with the disqualified individuals to leave the property (ie without all of the tenants having to leave)

  • arrange the surrender of the tenancy by mutual agreement (ie all of the tenants agree to leave)

You will have to follow the eviction process set out below if the relevant occupiers do not agree to leave. This process will leave the tenancy that the qualified persons (ie those that do have a right to rent) hold unchanged.

To evict only some occupants of your property (ie those with no right to rent), you can use a section 8 notice and rely on Ground 7B. The notice period for this notice is 14 days and this notice can be used whether or not the fixed term of the tenancy has expired. Ground 7B can only be used in England. Ask a lawyer for assistance evicting a tenant.

Alternatively, if the fixed term of the tenancy has come to an end and all other criteria have been met, you can serve a Section 21 (Form 6A) notice for England. Make sure you give the appropriate amount of notice. After this notice period has expired, you can proceed with the eviction court process as normal. For more information, read Repossessing property - Section 21 notices.

If you haven't received a notice from the Home Office about a disqualified person, but you know or have reasonable belief that an occupier doesn't have the right to rent, you can request a notice from the Home Office. The Home Office will check whether the named person is a disqualified person and provide you with details. Once you have the notice then you can rely on the procedure outlined above.

Once disqualified persons have left their property, a landlord must report this to the Home Office. This can be done online through the Government’s website.

For further advice, landlords and tenants can Ask a lawyer or seek advice from their local Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter.

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