The Right to Rent is a key part of legislation for the private rented sector as a critical responsibility for any landlord or letting agent is to ensure that the process from the tenant’s initial application to the move-in and beyond, is all carried out correctly and lawfully. This process starts with a Right to Rent check which is to confirm that the applicant can legally live in the UK and therefore has a right to rent. This is for all tenants, whether they are from the UK originally or not.
The consequence of not doing this Right to Rent check is a fine of £1,000 for a first offence and up to £3,000 for subsequent offences. In England, landlords renting their property to individuals who they knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to rent in the UK can face an unlimited fine or a five-year prison sentence.
This is a serious issue and has tough penalties for non-compliance, either knowingly or otherwise, and with various factors that have affected the Right to Rent process over the past couple of years it is vital to stay up to speed with legislation.
Brexit was a factor, with the UK leaving the EU, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 ended free movement law in the UK on 31st December 2020. On 1st January 2021, a grace period began, during which time relevant aspects of freedom of movement law allowed eligible EEA and Swiss (EEA) citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 31st December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. From July 2021, when this grace period ended, the move was from checking nationality to checking the UK immigration status of adult applicants.
The pandemic also affected the process as video checks were introduced by Government to minimise unnecessary contact and scanned copies of documents were permitted under these temporary measures. Initially they were due to revert to pre-Covid arrangements in September 2021 but were then extended. Now since 1st October 2022, an applicant’s right to rent must be checked by either obtaining copies of the documents in person, or by using the Government online right to rent checking service or contacting a digital identity service provider. Checks can no longer be made over video call and scanned copies of documents can no longer be accepted.
Right to Rent checks are one of the valuable services Pennington offers in our Pick and Mix suite. A service tailored specifically for landlords who prefer to self-manage but who may be interested in support on aspects of the letting process. The landlord can pick and mix the services they need, as and when they need them, and it is available to all landlords.
If you would like any advice on Right to Rent or have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am always happy to help.
Managing Director / ARLA Propertymark Advisory Board
Tel: 01394 337590