Could new Right to Rent checks be easier for landlords?

Thorough checks need to be conducted when screening prospective tenants during an application stage. It gives you as a landlord the certainty when they come back positive that the tenant you have secured for your property are who they say they are, aren’t hiding a chequered history, and will look after your property the way it is meant to be.

As part of the legal process, a landlord must check that tenants or lodgers have the legal right to rent in the UK. Prior to commencing any new tenancy, all tenants over the age of 18 must be checked. If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, all landlords will need to do the check-in process the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.

Now, the government has announced plans to make tweaks to the process in order to make it easier for landlords to complete. The amendments could even be in place as soon as next month.

This will allow the prospective tenant to view their official Home Office profile – which should, for example, carry data about the eligibility of the individual to live in the UK. They would then be offered the ability to share their profile with the managing agency or directly with the landlord. This would be done in the same ‘share code’ system that is currently used on UK driving licenses for car insurance purposes. The government has assured that there will be strict safeguards to ensure the landlord can see only the appropriate Right To Rent information, and not any other data.

It is understood that whilst the changes are rolled out, managing agents and landlords will still have the option to carry out the currently existing document-based check until all parties are familiar with the new process.

EEA citizens will continue to be able to demonstrate their entitlement to rent to landlords by showing a valid passport or national ID card until June 30 2021.

The Coronavirus restrictions mean that changes introduced some months ago to the Right To Rent process continue in place, therefore:

  •  Checks can be carried out over video calls.
  • Tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals.

Conducting a right to rent check during the temporary COVID-19 measures

  • Ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app.
  • 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.
  • Record the date you made the check and mark it as “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

If the tenant does not have the right documents

You must contact the Landlord’s Checking Service if the tenant cannot provide documents from the prescribed lists.

Once you have submitted your request to the service, please do not try to contact them again. You will get an answer within two working days. You must keep their response to protect against a civil penalty.

For more information on carrying out Right to Rent checks, or staying compliant with screening tenants, give us a call on 0161 883 2525.

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