Changes to Right to Rent Rules in England
Changes to the Right to Rent rules came into force on 6th April so landlords need to take note.
As promised, the Right to Rent changes are here! To support the expected change, the government has also launched a digital identity-checking service scheme which will enable the free verification of a UK or Irish tenant’s identity documents. This scheme is for commercial providers to use, and a fee will be payable.
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This new system will run in parallel with the ‘adjusted checks’ video-call based verification process, which the government first introduced during Covid lockdowns.
These adjusted checks will remain in place until the end of September 2022.
What are the adjusted checks?
The adjusted checks system allows scanned documents sent digitally to be accepted, or for verification to be made via video call.
This can be done using the Home Office’s online checking service video facility and applies to tenants with:
- A Biometric Residence Permit
- A Biometric Residence Card
- Those granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system.
For other tenants, video messaging services such as Zoom, WhatsApp or Teams can be used.
From 30th September 2022, when the adjusted checks end, landlords can choose from three options going forward:
- A manual face-to face check of the tenant’s Right to Rent documents.
- Via an Identity Service Provider (IDSP), using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) such as Yoti/Post Office to check the identity of a British or Irish citizen.
- Using the Home Office online Right to Rent checking service.
It is thought that most local landlords who manage their own properties will complete checks of British or Irish nationals manually by checking their passports and getting a copy of the ID.
IDVT checks are intended to be used by landlords whose UK or Irish prospective tenants haven’t yet arrived in the UK or who cannot do face-to-face meetings.
The Home Office’s online service is primarily for the growing number of people issued with eVisas.
Hard copies vs. online checks
Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, says landlords and agents can continue to use specified hard copy documents for UK and Irish nationals or BJ5SSK nationals (citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA).
If IDSP is offered, landlords must not ‘discriminate against applicants that would prefer to provide hard copy documents checked either online to 30 September 2022, or in person.’
Paperwork will also need to be updated by landlords to reflect the shortened list of acceptable documents.
From 6th April 2022, hard copy forms of biometric cards and permits along with frontier workers permits (seasonal workers) will no longer be accepted under the new rules. You can read the full and updated Code of Practice on the Home Office website.
Don’t forget that as well as Right to Rent checks, you should also thoroughly reference your tenant so that you can assure yourself that you have the right person in your property.