Some landlords may be reluctant to rent a property out to European tenants after Brexit because they are worried about the tenant getting help to pay rent if they stop working. However, European people who were already resident in the UK when Brexit happens can continue to apply for benefits.
Will European tenants still have access to Universal Credit and Housing Benefit?
There is very little change to the way in which European nationals will access benefits. You may hear people referring to new categories of immigration control used for European nationals. These are “settled status” and “pre-settled status”.
A European national who has settled status because they have lived in the UK for at least 5 years will be treated in exactly the same way as a British or Irish national who applies for benefits.
A European national who has pre-settled status because they have lived in the UK for less than 5 years will have to show that they are eligible for benefits.
The same process will be used after Brexit as is currently used when deciding if a European national can claim benefits. A person will usually be eligible if they are working or if they have worked in the past but are temporarily unable to do so. A person can also be eligible if they are the family member of a European national who is working or is temporarily unable to work.
If you have a European tenant who needs help to pay rent, encourage them to apply for benefits and to get advice from somewhere like Housing Rights.
Can I increase the rent I charge to European tenants?
You may be worried that a European tenant will be more likely to leave the UK after Brexit, but this doesn’t give you a legitimate reason to charge a higher rent.
Landlords are free to set whatever rent they want for a property. But, it is likely to be an act of unlawful racial discrimination to charge a higher rent to a European tenant than you would charge to a British or Irish tenant just because of their nationality.
What can I do if my tenants return to Europe?
Some European people may decide to move away from the UK after Brexit.
If your tenants decide to do this, they are still required to give you notice to quit, and you can still use their deposit to cover reasonable losses, such as unpaid rent or damage to the property.
There is an EU cross-border small claims procedure which landlords could have used to sue tenants who owed rent and who had moved to another EU country, but it is unlikely that this will still be available to people resident in the UK after Brexit.