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Changes to Right to Rent Checks

From Robert Ulph on June 18, 2021

There are changes planned for Right to Rent checks in England from next month and it is something that landlords must make sure they keep the right side of the law on.

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 acting on their behalf, is ensuring 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 has always been a £3000 fine and, under the Immigration Act 2016, could mean a prison sentence.

The Home Office has now released a draft revised Right to Rent Code of Practice in readiness for the changes to checks coming in on 1st July 2021.

The changes have come about because of Brexit. 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, 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. This period ends on 30th June 2021.

A draft code has been published with updates that reflect the introduction of the new Regulations, making a number of changes that come into force next month.

So, what does this mean for landlords and agents? In broad terms, from July agents will move from checking nationality to checking the UK immigration status of all adult applicants. From this point, if someone is an EEA, EU, or Swiss national, they will need to provide evidence of their UK immigration status rather than their national identification.

Most EEA citizens resident in the UK will have made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme and will have been provided with digital evidence of their UK immigration status. They will evidence their Right to Rent by sharing their immigration status digitally, using the Home Office online Right to Rent service.

However, there will be EEA citizens who have another form of leave in the UK, which is held in a physical document, for example, an endorsement in a passport or visa. Digital status checks can be conducted by video call permanently while hard copy checks will still need to be conducted in person.

If you would like any advice on what these changes mean to you, or have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am always happy to help.