"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The American spouse of a British citizen writes

No dogs, no cats, no Americans

I'm having some pretty serious issues with renting in London, and I suspect it is my non-British accent, (or umm, 'voice'), and the new laws making it 'illegal to rent to anyone who is not legally residing in the UK', that is causing the us these problems.

I've called five places. Two with private landlords, and three major letting agencies.

One: I left a message, and got no return call… Which, ok, fair enough, maybe it was taken, right? It was still listed four days later, so I phoned back, and left another message - no return call. So, the next day, I rang again, and the call was picked up, and then hung up on… So, I had my British husband call - He left a message, and was called back an hour later, and a viewing was set up. (Too small.)
Two: The private landlord told me over the phone that it was taken. It was still listed six days later: Hubby called, spoke to the same guy, and would have viewed it, but they do not accept cats.

Letting agents:
One: I phoned, a guy answered, and I asked to come in and register. That was all I said. 'Hello, I'm flat hunting in your area, and I was wondering when the best time is to come in and register with your company is…' He asked me one question, and then asked me to hold on, 'Are you a student?' I said no. Before I could say anything else, he asked me to hold… Then, a woman came on, and she said, 'Hiya, sorry, we have nothing in that area for that price range.' I said, 'Oh, hi... I was speaking to a guy about registering…' And she repeated, 'Yeah, so sorry, we have nothing in that area for that price range.' So, I said I'd NOT specified an area or a price range, very politely, as I assumed she had picked up the wrong line... There was a pause. Then, she told me they were not registering new clients right now, and to call back in four months. And she hung up. My British husband registered with the same agency the next day. They had two flats in our desired area, and in our price range. (Both sucked.)
Two: the letting agency asked me seven questions about my visa status, took my number, said they would call me back to set up a viewing, but never did. I waited a week. My husband phoned them, and the very same day, looked at a dump of a flat.
Three: another agency told me flat out that they needed time, perhaps a few months, to understand the new non-national renting laws before taking me on as a client. They asked me to call in a few months.

Yesterday, I emailed a landlord, and told her I was interested in the flat… She phoned me back, and left a message for me, on my home line, which has a recorded message done by my British husband… She said I could view it today, and that she has people coming to see it at 3:00pm. I could come before that. I phoned her back, she answered, and after two sentences from me, sounded nervous… I launched into my visa status, right away, and explained that I have ILR, and what that means. She asked several questions… She said she would phone me back after doing 'a bit of research'.

All I wanted to do was VIEW the flat. I'm left wondering if she will even call me back.

I'm 'legal' here.

I am a non-EU Spouse of a British Citizen. I have lived in the UK for almost three years.

I have ILR. Meaning: My visa does NOT expire. Not EVER.

For all they know, I HAVE A BRITISH PASSPORT!!!

I also have a full time job with a permanent contract, and I have a damn good income, and perfect credit.

I have legally qualified to be here, taken a 'Citizenship test, had my fingerprints taken, and filled out multiple applications, and paid multiple fees… and had this government comb through my entire life…

UK fiancé visa (Including the fees incurred for copies, postage, and documents) = £1,600.00.
UK Spouse visa (with a lawyer) = £3,500.00.
UK ILR visa (In person, with copy and document fees) = £1,600.00.
Upcoming British Passport fee = £1,000.00.

= £7,700.00.

Seven thousand, seven hundred British pounds!

We will have paid out £7,700.00 in a three year period!

That is around… $12,300, in American dollars.

I have done everything 'right' in order to live in the UK with my British born husband.

So, why are the UK letting agents and private landlords refusing to deal with me?

WELL… Because, what I don't have… is a British ACCENT.

And… When my British husband does find a flat we want to rent, and we eventually hand them my American passport, and my UKBA issued ILR card… Will they change their mind, and decide NOT to rent to us?!

Thanks Theresa May.

My British husband would also like to thank you Ms May, for finding new and creative ways, over and over, of making our Normal-LEGAL-Married-Life-in-the-UK... Unobtainable.

 - Nico


  1. Please do something about this: this is the classic test for discrimination, and what has happened is race discrimination and illegal in the UK. So contact the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and ask them to take it up and suggest your next step. Or talk to your local law centre or to a solicitor specialising in discrimination law. Because you can do this, you have the resources and the time and can make a difference for everyone, and because discrimination is happening like thi salready, before anything in the Immigration Bill is even law,

    1. Sue, thanks for your feedback (and good to see you here).

      I think an issue with people in this situation (not this person in particular) is, for want of a better word, intimidation. What will other letting agents make of this, will they be blacklisted? Renting in London is tough as it is, how will this affect them? This is the insidious culture that's developing.

      I am happy to reach out as you suggest, on behalf of this issue. I sincerely hope others will come forward.

      - Steve

    2. Wow -- I had no idea about this. Landlords being turned into immigration police? Ridiculous -- especially if there is no provision to prevent discrimination against legitimate tenants.