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We discuss this in detail in our Partner & Spouse visa Coronavirus (COVID-19) update article.
In this article, we are going to discuss whether you should submit a housing report or UKVI Property Inspection report for your:
- UK Spouse visa (Spouse visa application from outside the UK)
- FLR(M) Visa (Spouse visa application from inside the UK)
- UK Fiance visa
- UK Unmarried partner visa.
What are UK Housing reports & UKVI property inspection reports?
A Housing Report (or UKVI property inspection report), for the purposes of a UK immigration application, is essentially a document that is sometimes submitted to show that certain UK accommodation can be relied on as it is ‘adequate‘.
‘Adequate accommodation’ is a mandatory requirement for UK partner and parent visa applications and it is something that we will address in more detail in part 5 of this article.
“So who can conduct a Housing Report?”
There is no certain requirements as to who must conduct a Housing Report.
After all, you may be surprised to know that a Housing Report is not a specified supporting document in the Immigration Rules.
Therefore, there are no specific guidelines as to whom the report must be written by or what format or information it must include.
With this in mind, housing reports, when conducted, are usually done by chartered surveyors.
On the other hand, some councils (e.g. Manchester City Council, as seen here) list on their website that they are able to carry out ‘UKVI property inspections’.
Do you need a housing report?
For applicants relying on accommodation that they or their partner own, or which is owned by another family member or friend, you may consider submitting a housing report.
The question, however, is should you?
We will now discuss reasons why you should consider submitting a housing reports and reasons that you should not consider submitting a housing report.
Reasons that you SHOULD submit a housing report for a UK spouse visa (or other partner or parent visa)
#1 The Home Office guidance suggests that documents evidencing adequate accommodation is something that is expected.
A Housing Report is such a document and therefore it is an efficient method of demonstrating that one aspect of the adequate accommodation requirement is met.
#2 If you are relying on UK accommodation where doubts may be raised about the adequacy of the accommodation.
A good example of this is when the proposed accommodation arrangements in the UK fall outside of the norm of a dwelling house.
For example, if your sponsor in the UK lives in a caravan park in a mobile home and you are seeking to join him or her there, the decision maker may have some questions as to the accommodation arrangements being adequate.
Mobile homes can be spacious and perfectly habitable, sometimes even more so that some apartments in big cities.
In such a case, providing some evidence regarding the adequacy of the accommodation may be the smarter bet as this can help avoid potential complications or misunderstandings about the suitability of the proposed living arrangements.
A housing report here would most likely be welcomed by the Home Office decision maker.
#3 It may give you better peace of mind about your application
You may feel that the time and money spent obtaining a Housing Report is worth it for your peace of mind alone.
The housing report’s information will make it clear that the accommodation has been properly inspected and meets the required standard.
No other questions are likely to be raised with regards to the ‘adequacy’ of the accommodation.
With this being said, please note that adequate accommodation is not the only accommodation requirement.
For instance, you will still need to evidence that you and your partner will have a legal right to stay at the proposed accommodation.
Reasons that you should NOT submit a housing report for a spouse visa (or other partner or parent visa)
#1 Housing Reports are not generally expected
Experience and communication with Home Office decision makers allow us to say with professional certainty that there are rarely any issues with applications that do not include a Housing Report.
Again, a Housing Report is not a mandatory document which has been specified in the Immigration Rules.
It is not something that is generally expected.
What is expected and must be provided is a document, or documents, that evidence that you and your sponsor, and any other members of the household:
- Have a legal entitlement to reside in your proposed accommodation; and
- That this accommodation is owned or occupied exclusively by your family unit.
#2 Housing Reports are costly and sometimes time-consuming
Housing Reports normally cost somewhere in the region of £80-150 in the UK, depending on the fees charged by the professional body carrying out the inspection.
It can also be time consuming on two fronts.
i) Firstly, you will have to consider the time required to find an organisation that is willing to provide you with a Housing Report.
This is not as easy as you may think and can prove quite challenging!
From our experience, the majority of chartered surveyors are unfamiliar with Housing Reports for the purposes of a UK visa application.
Whilst some are happy to oblige, sometimes for a hefty fee, some will just flat out refuse to provide one.
ii) Secondly, you will also have to consider the time it takes to schedule an appointment at a time that is convenient for both you and the assessor, as well as the time it will take for the person to inspect the property, write the Housing Report and then send it to you.
This could cause delays and alter the date you submit your application.
As you know from our other articles, some documents are time sensitive.
So, if you wait for several weeks for a Housing Report to be completed, you may then be forced to acquire more recently dated evidence regarding your circumstances.
In cases where you are bound by a specific date to submit your application, this could mean missing your visa centre appointment day, or falling foul of the expiry date of your visa!
“But I see that chartered surveyor websites state that a housing report is absolutely required?”
It is certainly not the case that Housing Reports are absolutely required for spouse visa applications.
Just to reiterate once again: a Housing Report is not a specified document in the Immigration Rules and therefore it is not a document that must be submitted.
Certain professionals (i.e. chartered surveyors or estate agents) may promote such services as they have a conflict of interest and want to take your hard earned cash.
As you know from our free & detailed visa guides, one of our goals is to help you save money by not feeling that you have to spend thousands in extra legal fees!
How do you get a housing report?
This is a question that we have been asked over and over again, especially as it is apparent that a lot of chartered surveyors and estate agents in the UK are not familiar with Immigration guidelines or providing Housing Reports tailored to visa applications.
If you want to ask either a chartered surveyor for a housing report, you can follow this script:
“Hello, I am calling to ask about getting a letter from yourselves that essentially says two things.
Firstly, that my accommodation is not overcrowded as defined by the Housing Act.
Secondly, that the accommodation does not obviously contravene public health and safety regulations.
This is for a UK visa application. Is this something that you can help with?”
From our experience, chartered surveyors and estate agents are much more likely to agree to a Housing Report request if you tell them that you have a template that you just want them to complete and and sign.
What should a housing report template include?
Since many chartered surveyors may not be familiar with writing Housing Reports for UK visa applications, it may be helpful to provide them with a pre-made template that is ready to complete and sign.
This not only ensures that the information provided in the Housing Report confirms that your accommodation is adequate, but also it acts as a time-saver for both you and the chartered surveyor.
That is, of course, is if you decide to include a Housing Report in support of your application.
Ideally, a Housing Report template should include the following:
- The number of rooms in the property
- The number of permitted occupants
“Do you have a housing report template that I can use?”
Housing report templates are available to our DIY Application Pack customers.
We do not include it as standard because it is not something that we generally recommend, but application pack customers who request it can have it free of charge.
Housing Report Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does the housing report need to be an original?
If you choose to submit a housing report, you will not have to submit the original housing report or UKVI property inspection report.
As stated in the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 1534, 11 October 2018, the the Home Office will no longer generally insist on seeing original documents: copies may be provided.
What is the expiry date of a Housing report?
There are no set expiry date with regards to a Housing Report for the purposes of a UK partner or parent visa immigration application.
This is not surprising since the Housing Report is not a specified document that must be submitted.
So unlike bank statements that cannot be dated more than 28 days prior to the date of application, a Housing Report has no expiry date.
Therefore, treat it like any other document that does not specify a timeframe: provide a recently dated document.
‘Recently dated’ is completely subjective but in the case of a Housing Report, 2-3 years should be acceptable.
This is especially the case if a Housing Report has already been used in a previous partner or parent visa application and this visa is being extended. Providing, of course, that the accommodation remains the same!
How much does a housing report cost?
Chartered surveyors tend to charge in the region of £80-150.
You will probably not be shocked to hear that in London, fees are often on the higher end of the price scale!
How long will it take to get a housing report?
This depends on whether you can find an organisation that is familiar with Housing Reports for the purposes of a UK visa application.
What is the adequate accommodation requirement for UK spouse visas & other partner and parent visas in 2020?
‘Adequate accommodation’ is a requirement that confirms that the accommodation you and the members of your family unit propose to occupy in the UK…
- is not overcrowded; and
- does not violate public health and safety regulations.
We will now discuss these.
#1 Accommodation is not adequate if it is overcrowded
The first test that your proposed accommodation must pass is that it must not to be overcrowded.
But what does overcrowded accommodation mean?
According to paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules, the meaning of overcrowded accommodation is the definition found in the Housing Act 1985 for England and Wales, the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 or the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988.
This definition is applicable to privately owned homes and those owned by local authorities and assesses:
- the standard of the room; and
- the space available versus the number of people in the accommodation, or dwelling.
When examining your application, a decision maker will base their assessment on this definition and consider the following two factors.
i) The room standard
The room standard is breached when there are not sufficient sleeping rooms available in the dwelling for two people aged 10 or over of the opposite sex (who are not a couple) to sleep in separate rooms.
ii) The space standard
The space standard is breached when the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling is in excess of the permitted number.
This is assessed by calculating the number of rooms and calculating whether the number of occupants is proportionate to this space.
The method for determining whether the space is proportionate is as follows:
- Count the number of people occupying the dwelling, including children. When taking into account the number of people occupying the dwelling, the assessor considers who is currently or will be living in the dwelling in the near future, not who is submitting a visa application. Children under the age of 1 are not included in this count and children under the age of 10 are counted as half.
- Count the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation. Bathrooms and kitchens are not counted as sleeping accommodation. Rooms of less than 50 square feet are not counted.
- Compare the number of people occupying the accommodation – based on gender and age – with the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation. The table below sets out what is acceptable:
|Number of rooms in the accommodation available for sleeping||Number of people permitted to sleep in the accommodation without it being overcrowded|
|More than 5 rooms||10 plus an additional 2 persons for each room in excess of 5 rooms
e.g 8 rooms = 16 people, 9 rooms = 18 people.
The UK accommodation that Susie and Bob are relying on has 1 room that can be used as sleeping accommodation.
In addition to Susie and Bob, there will be one other person staying at the accommodation – a 6 year old child.
The accommodation is therefore overcrowded (and thus not adequate under the Immigration Rules).
This is because the amount of people that are permitted to rely on that accommodation is 2 people.
In this example, there will be 2.5 people that will be relying on the accommodation (since children under 10 are considered to be ‘half’ a person).
“Is overcrowding ever allowed?”
Overcrowding is only ever allowed if:
- it occurs due to a new-born child or a child who has just turned 10 years of age and alternative accommodation arrangements have not yet been made.
- It is due to temporary living arrangements (for example, if a member of the family comes to live in the household for a short time). However, your application will have to satisfy a decision maker that this arrangement is exceptional and will only be temporary.
- it is licensed overcrowding, where the local authority has given permission for more persons to occupy the dwelling
#2 Accommodation is not adequate if it contravenes public health and safety regulations
It is very rare that the property you propose to occupy contravenes public health or safety regulations as all constructions have to meet certain standards in the UK.
Although unlikely, it is important to note that if the decision maker has information or satisfactory evidence that your proposed accommodation breaches public health and safety regulations they may determine that the accommodation is not adequate and can refuse your visa application for this reason.
As you have seen, a Housing Report is not specified in the Immigration Rules and not a mandatory document to evidence that you meet the accommodation requirement.
You may feel more confident including a Housing Report or you may chose to include one if you have an accommodation circumstance that is not common – for example if you propose to live in a mobile home.
If you’d like to ensure that your application ticks all of the boxes, feel free to check out our DIY Application Pack service.
We are OISC registered & regulated UK immigration law firm.
As part of our DIY Application Pack service, you will receive:
- A tailored document checklist
- A tailored letter of support
- General email support
Because of the results our customers have seen, we are so confident in our Application Packs that we offer a 100% money back guarantee.
Included in this service is a Housing report template – if you do decide that you wish to include a Housing report with your application.