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EU citizens could struggle to rent in UK post-Brexit

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Estate agent ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ signs next to houses in Coventry, England. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Landlords could be put off renting properties to EU nationals as a result of Brexit, according to a landlord advocacy group.

The Rental Landlords Association (RLA) said that EU citizens may find it difficult to get accommodation after Brexit because the government has failed to publish any guidance on how it will treat EU citizens renting property in the UK.

“The government needs to publish clear and practical guidance for landlords about the implications of Brexit on who they can and cannot rent to,” David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said in a statement. 

“If they do not, more landlords will become increasingly fearful about renting to non-UK nationals with the potential of facing prosecution.”

In 2015, the government introduced laws mandating that landlords must check that their tenants are legally allowed to rent in the UK. If landlords fail to do so, they could face prosecution.

The RLA said a survey of its 35,000 members found one-fifth were more reluctant to rent to EU citizens as a result of the laws. The RLA said the figure could rise post-Brexit.

“Landlords are not border police and cannot be expected to know who does and who does not have the right to live here,” Smith said. “The result will be they will avoid renting to anyone who is not a UK national making life difficult for EU nationals.”

An estimated 3.7m EU citizens live in the UK and the government estimates that around two-third of them live in rented accommodation. The UK government has agreed to allow EU citizens in the UK to remain here after Brexit, however some EU citizens have already reported trouble with a “hostile environment” that makes it difficult for them to remain here.