One of the more onerous duties imposed on landlords in the past few years has been the obligation to carry out Right to Rent checks on their tenants. Since March last year, the requirements have been adjusted to allow for lockdown rules, but what will the future bring?
What Are Right to Rent Checks?
The Immigration Act 2016 made it a criminal offence to rent a home or part of a home to anyone whose immigration status means they don’t have residency rights in the UK. This effectively meant that the onus for identifying illegal renters passed from government immigration services to the landlord of the property.
Landlords are supposed to check original copies of the tenant’s documents proving their right to live and rent in the UK. Criticisms of this law have ranged from the extra burden this places on landlords to claims that it violates human rights legislation. However, the government has continued to enforce this obligation on landlords.
What Are the Covid Arrangements for Right to Rent Checks?
Clearly, any obligation to physically inspect the documents would have been contrary to lockdown rules, and in March 2020 the government issued revised guidelines for the duration of the pandemic. During this period, landlord’s obligations have been to:
- Get a scan or photo of the documents via email or mobile app
- Check the documents against the copies held up to the camera during a video call with the tenant
- Record it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
Alternatively, if the tenant’s residence rights are already recorded on the online right to rent service, you can simply check on that. However, this must be done during a video call with the tenant, with their explicit permission to view their data.
What Is the Future for Right to Rent Checks?
The Covid arrangements for the checks were due to finish on 20th June, in line with the planned end to lockdown restrictions. However, since that was put back, the government also extended the Right to Rent special arrangements.
These are now planned to end on 31st August, after which landlords will again have to view the documents in person. However, one piece of good news is that the government has withdrawn its original requirement that all tenancies agreed since 30th March 2020 must be rechecked. This will no longer be needed.
There are still plenty of problems and pitfalls, though, for landlords trying to meet their requirements for Right to Rent checks. Give me a call if you need to talk any of this over.