Industry News James Wood 21/04/2022

Blog: Your right to rent update

In welcome news for landlords, the Government has made it easier to perform right to rent checks from April this year. 

Under the new rules for right to rent, landlords now have a range of options for performing a right to rent check on prospective tenants, including using digital verification technology that can be performed remotely. 

Prior to the pandemic landlords had to perform right to rent checks in person with any prospective occupants. They were also responsible for performing the check unless there agent was willing to take on the responsibility and confirm this in writing. 

With these new changes, right to rent checks will become significantly more flexible and easier to perform, even after the Covid-adjusted checks have ended. 

Using Identity Document Verification Technology 

Rather than manually checking documents themselves, landlords may now use an identity service provider (ISP) to establish right to rent. 

These checks are performed via Identity Document Verification Technology (IDVT) rather than through face to face meetings with the tenants and do not have any set requirements about how the check is performed, only that it is reasonably accurate. 

To establish a statutory excuse the landlord should -  

  1. Use an ISP where the landlord is reasonably confident in the quality of service provided. The Home Office has published a list of certified providers that landlords can use for this. 

  2. Ensure that the documentation provided matches with the prospective occupant before granting the tenancy. 

  3. Retain copies of the IDVT results throughout the tenancy and for one year after the tenant leaves the property. 

This service is available for use by all potential occupants, including UK nationals.  

Using the Home Office checking service 

An online system for checking right to rent is now also available for entrants to the UK. This new system makes it significantly easier for landlords to check right to rent status of non-UK nationals but it is only available in some circumstances. 

You will be able to use the digital service where the prospective occupier: 

  • has a biometric residence card or permit; 

  • has settled or pre-settled status; 

  • applied for a visa and used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document on their phone. 

Entrants to the UK who have done this will enter their details on the Government's site. They can then give access to you by providing their 'share code' and date of birth. Once you have this information you can check their right to rent status by visiting https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent and checking the details available on the page. 

The details include a photograph of the person so make sure you have seen the prospective tenant before checking this information. 

Face to face right to rent checks 

Prior to the pandemic right to rent checks had to be performed in person, with the landlord or their agent solely responsible for ensuring the ID provided was genuine.  

This type of check is still available and can still be performed. To do this landlords must – 

  1. Establish the adults will live in the property as their only or main home. 

  2. Meet the prospective occupiers in person. 

  3. At the meeting, have them show you their original versions of one or two documents from List A or B. 

  4. If you are satisfied the documents are genuine and they identify the occupier then make and retain copies of the documents. In your record of this, ensure you include the date on which the check has been made and whether or not a follow-up check will be required. 

  5. Sign the tenancy agreement after completing this right to rent check. 

  6. If your tenant requires a follow-up check, repeat steps 1-5 before their time-limited right to rent expires. 

  7. Retain copies of the document from List A or B during occupation and for 12 months after they move out. 

Covid adjusted checks 

Until 30 September 2022, landlords may still perform the easier Covid-adjusted check instead of the full in-person right to rent check. To perform this check landlords should – 

  1. Have any prospective adult occupier submit a scanned copy or a photo of their documents from List A or List B via email or using a mobile app. 

  2. Arrange a video call with the prospective occupier and ask them to hold up the document on screen. Check this against the copy you were sent. 

  3. Record the date you made the check and mark a copy of the scanned document with the phrase “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”. Keep your record of this. 

  4. If the tenant has time-limited right to rent, perform a further check before their time-limited right to rent expires. 

Changes to acceptable documents 

From 6 April 2022 all tenants with a Biometric Residence Card, Biometric Residence Permit, or Frontier Worker Permit (biometric card holders) will only be able to evidence their right to rent using the Home Office online service.  

Landlords do not need to undertake retrospective checks where tenants before 6 April 2022 evidenced their right to rent with a physical card and will continue to have a statutory excuse where checks were carried out in line with guidance at that time. 

James Wood

James Wood Policy Manager

James Wood, LLB, is the NRLA’s Policy Manager. James has provided legally sound advice to thousands of landlords for over 6 years, along with producing the organisation’s guides and documents and training the organisation’s highly rated advice service.

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