February 14, 2022
Right to Rent – what is the latest?
Right to Rent has long proved controversial. The system requires letting agents and landlords to conduct checks on tenants before they let a home. It has undergone various changes over the course of the pandemic to make it easier for these to be carried out remotely.
Although checks being carried out remotely has been the case for the past two-or-so years, the Home Office recently confirmed that a new digital identity checking technology will come into effect from April 6 2022. April 6 2022 is the date at which the government had previously said the system would revert to its pre-pandemic state.
Below, we look at how the checks have changed as a result of Covid. What the new ID technology looks like. And set out what is to come this year.
Covid leads to temporary changes to Right to Rent
At the very beginning of the pandemic, Right to Rent checks experienced a significant overhaul. Temporary adjustments to the way checks are carried out were introduced to keep face-to-face contact to a minimum. And help prevent the spread of the virus.
The alterations, first implemented on March 30 2020, meant that checks could be carried out with applicants submitting scanned documents. Rather than the physical versions, as was the case before.
Consequently, letting agents and landlords have been able to conduct Right to Rent checks via video calls. Initially, this was seen as a temporary measure by the Home Office. But because of lockdowns and restrictions on mixing and face-to-face contact, it has been extended a number of times.
For many, the new system has proved to be a success. Leading the industry to question why video calls couldn’t be used on a permanent basis.
At present, and up till April 5 2022, landlords and agents conducting a temporary adjusted check must do several things. First ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app. Second, to arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents. Third, to record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19”.
Right to Rent to get new ID technology
Last month, the Home Office announced that landlords, letting agents and employers will be able to use certified new technology to digitally carry out Right to Rent checks.
This came after positive feedback regarding remote checks. Subsequently, the government launched a review of the availability of technology to support a system of digital Right to Rent checks.
As a result of the review, the government has acted. It has confirmed that, from April 6, certified identity service providers will be able to use Identification Document Validation Technology to conduct Right to Rent checks on behalf of British and Irish citizens.
Enabling people to verify their identity remotely and prove their eligibility to work or rent, IDSPs will help cut the costs of recruitment and letting processes. What’s more, they can conduct checks on behalf of employers and landlords at scale.
The government says this will slash working time and hours spent undertaking checks for landlords – or letting agents on their behalf.
“Online checks make it quicker, easier and more secure for employers and landlords to carry out right to rent and right to work checks. And it stops those looking to abuse our immigration system,” Kevin Foster, minister for safe and legal migration, said of the new system.
“These changes will make the checks more secure, quicker to do and will better support remote working practices,” he added.
What about Right to Rent and Brexit?
Britain’s decision to leave the EU has also had an impact on Right to Rent checks. Presently, if the tenant has a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or Biometric Residence Card (BRC), or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system, landlords or agents can use the online right to rent service while doing a video call. The applicant’s permission is needed.
However, if a tenant does not possess the right documents, the Home Office Landlord Checking Service should be contacted. You should get an answer within two working days once a request has been sent. And you must keep this response to protect against a civil penalty.
That said, a recent Home Office update said that from April 6 2022, BRP, BRC and Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) holders must evidence their right to rent using the Home Office online service only. Presentation of a physical document will no longer be acceptable.
Additionally, the update said landlords will not need to retrospectively check the status of BRC, BRP or FWP holders who entered into a tenancy agreement up to and including April 5 2022.
According to the latest guidance, landlords will maintain a statutory excuse against any civil penalty if the initial checks were carried out in line with the guidance that applied at the time the check was made. The full amended guidance can be seen here.
2022 – where do landlords stand on Right to Rent?
The adjusted checks have worked very well for all parties during the pandemic. They have seemingly made the system easier and more streamlined. The government has received very positive feedback about remote checks. And has acted accordingly with new ID technology checks.
Despite the pandemic appearing to ease, it would appear the government is backing a more permanent system of remote, digital Right to Rent checks. This should, in turn, provide a quicker, safer and more efficient process for landlords.
If you’re unsure about anything to do with the Right to Rent process, help is at hand. Here at Atkinson McLeod, we have the experience and knowhow to assist.
We can help you to get the most from your rental properties. If you have any questions about letting a home in the London area,, or the Right to Rent checks involved, we’re here to help.
To find out more about our services and current operations, please get in touch with our expert team today. You can find out how much your home could be worth on the current market by requesting a free and instant online valuation here.