Deadline for temporary Right to Rent rules extended again

The latest government advice for letting agents and landlords carrying out Right to Rent checks during the coronavirus pandemic confirms that letting agents can continue carrying out Right to Rent checks by video call until 30 September 2022, after the emergency measures were extended yet again.

The Home Office says deferring the end date of the adjusted checks to 30 September 2022 ensures landlords have sufficient time to develop commercial relationships with identity service providers, make the necessary changes to their pre-tenancy checking processes and carry out responsible on-boarding of their chosen provider.

The decision also provides opportunity for landlords to put measures in place to enable face to face document checks if they do not wish to adopt digital checks for British and Irish citizens with a valid passport (or Irish passport card).

The short-term changes to the scheme, which requires landlords to check that all tenants who occupy their properties have legal status to live in the UK, have meant that since March 2020, the Home Office has not required landlords to see original documents. Instead, it currently allows checks to be undertaken over video calls.

The temporary changes were initially due to end on 17 May, before the deadline changed to 20 June. It was later extended until the end of August, and then 5 April, but will now be in place until 22 M

The Home Office offers the following updated advice for landlords carrying out Right to Rent checks:

The following temporary changes were made on 30 March 2020 and remain in place until 30 September 2022 (inclusive):

  • checks can currently be carried out over video calls
  • tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • landlords should use the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents set out in Landlords Guide to Right to Rent or use the Home Office right to rent online service.

It remains an offence to knowingly rent to a person who does not have the right to rent in England.

Checking an individual’s right to rent during the temporary COVID-19 measures: 

Up to and including 30 September 2022, if you are carrying out a temporary adjusted check, you must:

  • ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  • arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
  • record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
  • if the tenant has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to rent service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details. From 6 April 2022, all biometric card holders will evidence their right to rent using the Home Office online service only. You will no longer be able to accept physical cards for the purposes of a right to rent check even if it shows a later expiry date.

End of temporary adjustments

The temporary adjustments to right to rent checks due to COVID-19 will end on 30 September 2022 (inclusive).

Online right to rent service

The Home Office right to rent online service gives you a defence against a civil penalty. You don’t need to see or check the individual’s documents, as right to rent information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.

Landlords cannot insist individuals use this service or discriminate against those who choose to use their documents to prove their right to rent.

Retrospective checks

You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had an adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords during this difficult time.

You will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

It remains an offence to knowingly rent to a person who does not have the right to rent in England.

If a tenant does not have the right documents

You must contact the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if the tenant cannot provide the right documents. Once you have submitted your request to the Landlord Checking Service you will get an answer within 2 working days. You must keep this response to protect against a civil penalty.

 

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