Rental red tape can be a minefield for non-UK residents relocating from abroad! 

We’ve recently worked with a few families who are living overseas but wanting to relocate to the UK. It’s an incredibly stressful time for the families involved, having to figure out all the paperwork and arrangements required for work, school, visas applications etc - let alone being sure you’ve found the right house to live in when you get there! 

If you’re new to the area, it can be worth renting somewhere initially before committing to a purchase, so you can get a feel for the area and ‘find your feet’.  However, this is not always straightforward due to the red tape involved in renting to non-UK residents.

Proof of identity
The ‘Right to Rent’ requirements demand that the landlord or estate agent sees proof of identity before a tenancy agreement is signed - these need to be the original documents and, if you’re non-British citizen, they need to be seen in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy. Sounds reasonable enough, but if you’re applying for a Visa during that time (which is only valid for 30 days before travel), or travelling over from somewhere like Australia, the chances are you won’t be able to release the original documents as they will be needed for your travel arrangements instead! Frustratingly, we’ve found some lettings agents reluctant to even discuss a tenancy agreement without seeing these documents. However, don’t be put off by this, as the lettings agent can accept faxed copies of your passports and visas to secure an agreement - although they still won’t release the keys until they’ve seen the original documents.

Proof of income
You’ll also need to prove you have sufficient UK income to pay the rent - typically at least 30 times the monthly rent. But if you're just arriving in the UK, it's unlikely you have any UK income! If you’re UK business owner, you’ll need to have completed at least one annual tax return to prove your income in the UK. However, if you can’t prove any UK income, you need to prove you can pay by independent means - i.e, showing you have sufficient funds registered in a bank account to cover a certain period of rental income. Another way to get around the situation, providing you have funds available, is to agree to pay the rent up front for a period of time agreed with the landlord.  This can be anything from two-six months or even a year, depending on the individual situation.  

Developing trust
Some landlords are nervous about letting to a tenant they have never met, so it’s worth building a relationship with the lettings agents and making sure they understand your situation.  This can be difficult when you’re in a different time zone, so it can be a great reassurance for both our clients and the landlords if we are there in person, developing that relationship and trust on their behalf. 

There are a lot more issues to consider when relocating to the UK - like navigating the school admissions process when you don’t yet have a UK address, viewing properties remotely and timing your furniture arrival to coincide with your moving in date; all of which we’ll cover in another blog another time. However, one thing is for sure, we always get there in the end and provide as much help and support as we can to ease the stress of the situation!