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Know your rights guide


Find out about your right to rent housing in the UK.

What is new?

Housing rights changed for many people – especially those from European countries – on 1 January 2021.

This is because the UK left the European Union and ‘free movement’ rules no longer apply.

Do European nationals have a right to benefits or help with housing?

Housing and benefits rights of European (EEA) nationals and their family members lawfully in the UK on 31 December 2020 are protected. They can get help with benefits, social housing and if they become homeless, just as they did before. These rules cover: 

  • Those who already have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
  • People who have applied under the EUSS but have ‘pre-settled status’: they keep their rights until they obtain full settled status. 
  • Anyone who was lawfully resident on 31 December 2020 but has not yet applied to the EUSS, providing they apply by 30 June 2021.

What about new arrivals and nationals of other countries?

All nationals of other countries and – with a few exceptions – any European nationals who arrived after 1 January 2021, can only get housing and benefits help if they qualify for it. In most cases, they must have indefinite leave to remain or have refugee status. 

People may also qualify if they have suffered domestic violence or are eligible for help from social services (e.g. because they have children). But the rules on getting this special help are strict and you may need extra support if you apply.

For more information and support

You can find out about your housing and benefits rights in detail at www.housing-rights.info

Shelter and Shelter Scotland have advice on their websites. They also run a free helpline for urgent problems on 0808 800 4444, open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm at weekends.In Wales, Shelter Cymru have advice on their website. They also offer advice by telephone on 0345 075 5005 and can answer email enquiries via the website.