Industry News James Wood 23/04/2021

Emergency right to rent changes end

Changes to right to rent checks, introduced in response to the covid-19 pandemic will end next month.

With infections rates now falling and the country opening up once again the emergency measures will end on May 16th.

Prior to the pandemic a landlord had to meet all of the prospective occupiers in person and check  one or two original documents from two lists set out by Government.

If the landlord was satisfied the original documents were genuine, and identified the tenant, they kept a photocopy or photograph of the documents and were then free to sign a tenancy agreement with the tenants. They were also required to keep the copies until 12 months after the tenant left.

Right to rent during the pandemic

This requirement changed during the pandemic to minimise face-to-face meetings.

  • As of March 30 last year the Government allowed right to rent checks to performed by:
  • Asking any prospective adult occupier to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents from Lists A or B  via email or using a mobile app.
  • Arranging a video call with the prospective occupier and asking them to hold up the document on screen to check against the copy you were sent.
  • Recording the date you made the check and marking a copy of the scanned document with the phrase “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19” if you are satisfied the tenant has a right to rent.

Right to rent after the pandemic

These chekcs will come to an end on May 16th and the original (pre-Covid) checks will need to be made once again - or use the new digital system set up by the Government during the pandemic.

If the landlord performed a right to rent check online during the pandemic, the original plan was for landlords to have to do follow up checks in person once the pandemic ended.

However due to the length of the temporary restrictions, this plan has now been scrapped and landlords will not be expected to do follow-up checks.

Now, as of 17 May 2021, landlords will once again have to meet in person with their prospective tenants and check their right to rent status by looking at the original documents.

To help landlords record these checks, the NRLA will be publishing a right to rent identification form closer to 17 May. It will be available for members on our right to rent resource page.

Checking right to rent digitally

During the pandemic, the Government also introduced a new way to check right to rent digitally. This will continue after 17 May and landlords should continue to use this wherever possible.

Entrants to the UK will be able to enter their details, including a photograph on the Government's site which they can then give access to the landlord or their agent by providing their 'share code' and date of birth to the landlord to access their part of the new online checking site.

To establish right to rent in these cases, once the landlord has the access details, they will have to visit and verify the identity of the prospective tenant against the details available on their page.

James Wood

James Wood Head of Policy

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

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