Right to rent transition period extended
Changes to right to rent checks, introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic will remain in place until June 21.
Emergency measures, introduced in March last year to minimise face-to-face contact were due to end on Sunday – but the Government has announced they will be extended to give landlords more time to adjust.
Right to rent checks now
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 the check is 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 June 20.
The NRLA recently wrote to the Home Office for clarification around temporary changes to Right to Rent checks.
Right to rent checks post June 21
Once the extended restrictions end pre-Covid checks will need to be made once again.
These require the landlord to meet all of the prospective occupiers in person and check one or two original documents from two lists set out by Government.
If they are satisfied the original documents are genuine and identify the tenant, they keep a photocopy or photograph of the documents and are free to sign a tenancy agreement with them – keeping the copies until 12 months after a tenant leaves.
To help landlords record these checks, the NRLA will be publishing a right to rent identification form closer to June 21. It will be available for members on our right to rent resource page.
Alternatively they can use a new digital system set up by the Government during the pandemic.
It allows entrants to the UK 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 https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent and verify the identity of the prospective tenant against the details available on their page.
Follow up checks
If the landlord performed a right to rent check online during the pandemic, the original plan was for them 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 so.
Frequently asked questions
Announcing the extension the government also addressed some FAQs, these included:
1. 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 20 June 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 20 June 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 here.
2. Can I carry out an adjusted check on a tenant before 20 June if their tenancy begins on or after 21 June 2021?
Yes – the temporary adjustments to right to rent checks will remain in place until 20 June. 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 21 June 2021.
3. 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 on gov.uk here. During this difficult time, you must take extra care not to draw conclusions about an individual’s right to rent.
4. 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.