Right to Rent Checks Are Changing, Here’s Everything You Need to Know

right to rent checks

Right to Rent checks; the customary system that requires letting agents and landlords to verify a tenant's legal status by reviewing and recording original documents as part of their verification procedure before renting to them has experienced various revisions since its inception - And it's changing again as part of the UK Government’s plans to digitise the immigration system with a new digital identity-checking technology. New legislative changes came into effect on the 6th of April 2022 that have altered how Right to Rent checks are conducted by landlords and letting agents in England. Here is everything you need to know about it… 

COVID Adjusted Checks 

Right to Rent checks underwent substantial alterations at the onset of the pandemic, with the implementation of temporary changes to the way checks are conducted in an attempt to reduce face-to-face interaction. The modifications, which were first introduced on the 30th of March 2020, initially permitted checks to be performed using scanned or photographed documents submitted by applicants, as well as via video calls, rather than an examination of the physical copies that were previously necessary. 

These temporary adjustments were originally scheduled to end on the 5th of April 2022 but have now been pushed back to the 30th of September due to the apparent success of the remote system which has prompted a review of the availability of technology to support a system of digital Right to Rent checks.

What Changes to Expect

On the 19th of January, the Home Office announced that landlords, letting agents, and employers will be able to begin using a certified Identity Service Provider (IDSP) to verify the identity and eligibility of British and Irish nationals to rent in the UK. These service providers will employ digital identification document validation technology (IDVT) to carry out these checks. IDSPs will need to be accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) and meet the requirements of the UK Digital Identity Attributes Trust Framework; a full list of certified providers will eventually be published on the UK government website.

Individuals will be able to use IDSPs to remotely verify their identity, establish their eligibility to work or rent in the UK and lower their recruitment and rental expenses. They are also prepared to perform checks on behalf of employers and landlords on a large scale, reducing the number of hours spent manually checking paperwork. Despite these changes, landlords and agents will not be permitted to discriminate against the UK and Irish citizens who choose to have their documents examined manually, according to the new Code of Practice. Both services should be provided to ensure compliance.

Non-UK or Irish citizens - What Else is Changing?

Two different systems are available to check the Right to Rent eligibility of renters from outside the UK or Ireland. Agents and landlords will now be required to utilise the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if a tenant has applied for EU settlement status, has an ongoing immigration application, or has the right to rent for a limited time. If they are from abroad and have a UK Biometric Residence Permit, E-visa, or EU Settled Status, they must now conduct these checks online using the Home Office Checking Service. Physically checking these documents is no longer possible as of the 6th of April. Retrospective checks will, however, not be required for Biometric Residence Cardholders who utilised a physical document to demonstrate their right to rent prior to April 6, 2022. 

Nonetheless, if a landlord or agent chooses to conduct a retrospective online check and discovers that their tenant no longer has the Right to Rent, this must be reported to the Home Office via the online form to preserve a statutory excuse against prosecution and comply with the laws. Employers and landlords will have a statutory excuse against any civil penalty if the initial checks were performed in accordance with the guideline that was in effect at the time the check was performed.

To Sum Up 

These additional adjustments are being implemented in response to the success of adjusted checks, which have been well accepted by all parties since their inception nearly two years ago. The government's positive response to remote checks has shifted the favour towards a permanent system of remote, digital Right to Rent checks, ultimately prioritising a faster and more convenient process for landlords and agents.

Although these changes went into effect on April 6th, agents and landlords will be able to use the temporary system until September 30th to give themselves enough time to prepare for and react to the new legislation, as well as identify an appropriate IDSP supplier. If compliance with this new legislation is not met, landlords and letting agents risk facing a civil penalty or even prosecution.

For more information please visit the UK Government website

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