Landlords and letting agents managing properties can continue carrying out Right to Rent checks by video call until 31st August. There are also new rules coming into effect when checking the immigration status of tenants who are EU nationals.
All landlords or letting agents where applicable must check their tenants’ right to rent property in England. This involves checking passports and any relevant documentation prior to a tenant moving into your property.
Face-to-face checks with the tenant’s original documents are usually requirements. However, emergency measures mean landlords can carry out Right to Rent checks by video call with a scanned copy or photo of the original documents.
These temporary measures were first introduced in March 2020. The updated rules minimised face-to-face contact in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency measures were due to end on 20th June. However, these will now be in place until the end of August.
The Home Office announced this extension to remain in-line with wider government safety guidance. All lockdown restrictions were due to lift on 21st June. However, there is a delay of four weeks.
When will in-person checks return?
As things stand, landlords and letting agents will need to revert to in-person Right to Rent checks from 1st September. The exception to this will be tenants with a Home Office status.
Originally, retrospective in-person checks were a part of the government’s plans. However, this was dropped due to the length of time emergency measures have been in place. This means landlords will not need to undertake retrospective checks on tenants who had adjusted checks carried out during the pandemic.
Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager of Propertymark, says: “A further extension of adjusted checks allowing agents to conduct them by video call is a sensible response at the moment however this falls at the same time that we are moving to new arrangements post Brexit from 1 July.
“Agents need to be clear about what this means: adjusted checks can continue where you would previously have done an in-person check but the criteria for the changes on 1 July 2021 to focus on immigration status rather than nationality.”
While emergency measures for Right to Rent checks have been extended, changes coming into effect for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are still coming into effect from 1st July. It’s important for landlords and letting agents to be aware of these changes.
Up to now, prospective tenants from these areas have been treated the same as British nationals. Recently, the government confirmed how letting agents and landlords will check the Right to Rent status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens due to Brexit.
Prospective tenants who successfully applied to the EU Settlement Scheme or for a UK visa will need to provide evidence of their immigration status. From the beginning of July, Right to Rent checks will be based on immigration status instead of national identification.
Timothy Douglas comments: “A lack of EU, EEA or Swiss citizens taking on new tenancies during the pandemic may have reduced the focus on arrangements for overseas nationals but in order to avoid civil penalties, it is vital that agents are up to speed as we move to the next period of Right to Rent.”
Landlords and letting agents managing properties must undertake Right to Rent checks where applicable. These must be carried out as set out in the government’s code of practice. And landlords and agents must keep up with any relevant regulation changes.