Changes to right to rent checks, which were introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will now remain in place until 21st June. The emergency measures to reduce face-to-face contact, initially introduced in March 2020, were due to end in mid-May. However, the government has announced these will be extended to give landlords a longer period of time to adjust.
Right to Rent Checks Currently
From 30th March 2020, the government adapted right to rent checks to be performed by:
- Requesting prospective adult occupiers to present a scanned copy or photo of their original documents from Lists A or B using a mobile app or via email.
- Video Calling the prospective occupier and asking them to present the document on screen to check this against the copy sent.
- Recording the date the check was conducted and marking a copy of the scanned documents with the phrase ‘an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19’ and if satisfied the tenant has a right to rent.
Landlords can continue right to rent checks via this method until 20th June.
Right to Rent Checks after 20th June
Pre-COVID right to rent checks will need to be made once again, after the current adjustions are ended. Landlords then must meet all prospective occupiers in person, as well as check one or two original documents from the goverment’s Lists A and B. If a landlord is confident that the original documents presented are genuine and identify the prospective occupier, a photocopy or photograph of the documents must be kept. A tenenacy agreement can now be signed, however copies must be kept until 12 months after the tenant has left their property. To help landlords record these checks, a new online system has been set up by the government during the pandemic. Entrants to the UK can enter their details, including a photograph, onto the government website. Access can be granted to landlords or their agent by the UK entrants providing a ‘share code’ and date of birth. Once landlords have access to these details, they must visit https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent and verify the identity of the prospective tennant against the details available on their page.
If an adjusted right to rent check was conducted by a landlord online during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was originally decided that follow-up checks must be completed in person once the pandemic’s restrictions had suitably ended. However, the extended length of the temporary restirctions has led to this plan being changed. Landlords will now not be expected to complete these checks.
The government has provided answers to some FAQ’s following the recently announced extension to the right to rent check adjustments.
1. Will I be liable for civil penalty if I have only undertaken an adjusted check?
You will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021 (inclusive) was carried out in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance published on gov.uk.
Should a tenant with a time-limited right to rent require a follow-up check after 20 June 2021, you must ensure the follow-up check is undertaken as set out in the right to rent code of practice and the landlords guide to right to rent checks available on gov.uk.
2. Can I carry out an adjusted check on a tenant before 20th June if their tenancy begins on or after 21st June 2021?
Yes – the temporary adjustments to right to rent checks will remain in place until 20 June. However, landlords should ensure the security and integrity of their right to rent checks.
You may wish to consider if there are opportunities to safely carry out standard right to rent checks as set out in the right to rent code of practice and the landlord’s guide in advance of the temporary measures coming to an end. Particularly where a tenancy agreement does not start until on or after the 21 June 2021.
3. What if my tenant does not have any or current documentation?
You should use the Landlord Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any prescribed documents. This is available on gov.uk. During this difficult time, you must take extra care not to draw conclusions about an individual’s right to rent.
4. Does the criminal offence remain in force?
It remains an offence to knowingly let property to an illegal migrant.
For more information about the emergency measures and how landlord’s insurance could help you, contact your Konsileo broker today.