New extension to emergency right to measures
Emergency right to rent measures introduced to minimise face-to-face contact will now be in place until the end of August the Government has announced.
Adjusted checks were introduced in March last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and were originally due to end on June 20.
However, the Government has confirmed the period will now be extended to give landlords more time to adjust.
The need to physically check documents will apply from September 1.
What is the situation now?
As of March 30, last year the Government allowed right to rent checks to be performed by:
- Asking any prospective adult occupier to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents from two document 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 the check was made and marking a copy of the scanned document with the phrase “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19” satisfied the tenant has a right to rent.
Landlords can now continue to carry out checks in this way until August 31.
What happens from September 1?
From 1 September 2021, landlords must check the prescribed documents as set out in the right to rent code of practice and the landlord’s guide, published on GOV.UK here.
This means that when carrying out a document check the landlord must be in possession of the original documents and can no longer accept a scanned copy or a photo of original documents.
Alternatively, where applicable landlords can use the Home Office online right to rent service which does not require them to see or check the individual’s documents in person.
Instead, it allows entrants to the UK to enter their details, including a photograph on a Government's site. A prospective tenant can then give access to the site to their landlord or agent by providing a 'share code' and their date of birth. This will allow the landlord to carry out the checks.
Are retrospective checks required?
There is no requirement to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 (inclusive).
While retrospective checks were part of the Government’s original plans, they have been abandoned due to the length of time emergency restrictions were in place.
What about the changes to right to rent checks for EU Nationals?
Changes regarding renting to EU and EEA nationals are due to be introduced on July 1. This date will not change. For more details about the changes click here.
Frequently asked questions
Announcing the additional extension, the Government also addressed some FAQs. These included:
Why are you ending the temporary adjusted right to rent checks on 31 August 2021, rather than 20 June?
We are committed to supporting landlords and tenants during this pandemic.
The ending of the COVID-19 adjusted right to rent checks on 31 August 2021 is in response to the UK Government’s announcement on 14 June 2021 to extend the date for the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures.
Ending the temporary adjusted checks on 31 August 2021 ensures landlords and letting agents have sufficient notice to put measures in place to enable face to face document checks.
Will I be liable for civil penalty if I have only undertaken an adjusted check?
You will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 (inclusive) was carried out in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance published on GOV.UK.
Should a tenant with a time-limited right to rent require a follow-up check after 31 August 2021, you must ensure the follow-up check is undertaken as set out in the right to rent code of practice and the landlords guide to right to rent checks available on GOV.UK
Can I carry out an adjusted check on a tenant before 31 August 2021 if their tenancy begins on or after 1 September 2021?
Yes – the temporary adjustments to right to rent checks will remain in place until 31 August 2021.
However, landlords should ensure the security and integrity of their right to rent checks.
You may wish to consider if there are opportunities to safely carry out standard right to rent checks as set out in the right to rent code of practice and the landlord’s guide in advance of the temporary measures coming to an end, particularly where a tenancy agreement does not start until on or after the 1 September 2021.
What if my tenant does not have any or current documentation?
You should use the Landlord Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any prescribed documents.
This is available here. During this difficult time, you must take extra care not to draw conclusions about an individual’s right to rent.
Does the criminal offence remain in force?
It remains an offence to knowingly let property to an illegal migrant.
For more information visit the NRLA's right to rent pages here.