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Virtual Right to Rent Checks to Continue

From Robert Ulph on September 10, 2021

Last week the Home Office announced that Right to Rent checks can continue to be carried out by video call through until 5 April 2022.

Requirements for Right to Rent checks for new tenancies in England, were due to revert to pre-Covid arrangements on 1 September 2021. The latest delay is a positive reflection of the Department’s work to minimise unnecessary contact while also improving the effectiveness of the checks. 

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 has always been a £3000 fine and, under the Immigration Act 2016, could mean a prison sentence.

Propertymark has been working with the government to ensure that changes do not negatively impact lettings agents. The Home Office are monitoring instances of enforcement which lead back to fraudulent checks, to understand whether adjusted arrangements are having any negative impact on meeting objectives.

In July a revised Right to Rent Code of Practice was introduced as changes came 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 ended on 30th June 2021 and since July, agents moved from checking nationality to checking the UK immigration status of 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.

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.