The Home Secretary has been asked by a leading lettings sector trade organisation to ensure hard copy documents are given to EU citizens proving their status in the UK post-Brexit.
The request has come from the Residential Landlords Association, which is working with a campaign group called The3million. The two bodies have written jointly to Home Secretary Sajid Javid seeking clarification about the status of the estimated 66 per cent of EU citizens who are in the UK and live in private rented housing.
The government has in the recent past said those EU citizens currently in the UK would receive a digital code which - when checked on the Home Office website by a letting agent or landlord - would prove the eligibility or otherwise of an individual to reside in this country.
However, the two groups say this is not enough.
“The evidence that both the RLA and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has received is that as a result of concerns about prosecution under the Right to Rent scheme many landlords are simply not renting to those who cannot easily prove their status with a single clear document, such as a passport, that landlords easily recognise. We therefore concur with the Brexit Select Committee that issuing a number in this way is simply not feasible” says the letter to Javid.
It continues: “Without issuing a clear and understandable hard copy document to those whose rights would be protected, there is a very real danger of a repeat of the difficulties caused for many in the Windrush Generation who were in the country legally but unable to easily prove it.
“Such a document must be issued now so that, as tenancies come up for renewal between now and next March, landlords can be confident that they can continue to let to EU citizens, even in the event of a no deal Brexit.”
The letter, which has also been copied to other senior politicians including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, immigration minister Caroline Nokes and housing minister Kit Malthouse also asks whether - in the event of a no deal Brexit without a transition period - what would be the status of an EU citizen who came to the country now; and whether they would they have to leave by the end of March?
The RLA insists: “Without urgent clarity landlords will not know whether or not they are able to rent a property to them with the expectation that they will be able to see out a tenancy.”
The association also wants to know that if a Brexit deal is agreed involving a transition period, should EU citizens be offered longer tenancies - including three-year tenancies if legislated for in the short term - or should they be offered tenancies only up to the end of the transition period.