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Can I rent an apartment in London if I don’t have a visa?

As many of our clients have to apply for a visa to relocate to the UK, or are in the process of obtaining one, they often want to know whether they have to wait until their visa has been obtained in order to rent a place in London.  Now the answer is fairly straightforward: you cannot occupy a rental property in London (or the UK) unless you have the right to reside in the UK – that means a valid visa if your nationality does not give you the right to reside in the UK.

However, it is possible to get ahead of the game, and do all the following before your visa is granted:

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  • search for a rental property
  • view properties with estate agents, virtually or in person
  • go through the rental process
  • even to sign a tenancy agreement. Some estate agents might be reluctant about that, but it is actually not illegal to sign an agreement without a valid visa!

However the execution of the tenancy agreement can only be done when the valid visa has been obtained: that is when you get your keys and can therefore move in.

If, for example, a visa was delayed, you could be starting to pay your rent if your tenancy had started, but you would not be allowed to move in.

This is valid for tenants and adult occupiers- for example a spouse or partner, or even an adult child.

The conclusion is that having a valid visa is paramount to renting in London, and not having one, or one for your spouse, will prevent anyone from being able to move into a rental property.

If you want to know whether you need a bank account before you rent in London, check out this article.


Please note
This article is for information only and does not constitute legal advice. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of legislation which is subject to change. The information is correct as of October 2022.

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