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 what is possible is to search for a rental property, to view properties with estate agents, to go through the rental process, and even to sign a tenancy agreement (although some estate agents might be frisky 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 bank account before you rent in London, check out this article.
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 January 2021.