The Home Office has announced that the adjustments to Right to Rent checks, which were made due to COVID 19, will now continue until 5 April 2022 rather than 31 August 2021, giving letting agents more time to continue with Right to Rent checks virtually rather than face-to-face.
The decision to defer the date for the end of the adjusted checks to 5 April 2022 has been made because the Home Office is conducting a review into new digital solution for those unable to use the Home Office online checking service (including UK and Irish citizens). The delay gives times for the conclusions of the review to be finalised and ensures the Right to Rent Scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports landlords and letting agents to implement long-term, post-pandemic working practices.
- From 6 April 2022, you must check the prescribed documents as set out in the Right to Rent Code of Practice and the Landlord’s Guide. This means that when carrying out a document check you must be in possession of the original documents. You can no longer accept a scanned copy or a photo of original documents, as this will not provide you with a defence against a civil penalty.
- Alternatively, where applicable you can use the Home Office online right to rent service via https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent, which provides right to rent information in real time direct from Home Systems. You can carry out a check via video call using this service, the tenant must give you permission to view their details in the form of a share code.
- Where the tenant has a choice between a document check or an online check, landlords cannot insist individuals use the online service or discriminate against those who wish to prove their right to rent by using documents which also feature in the lists of acceptable documents.
- There is no requirement to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords and letting agents during this difficult time.
- You will maintain a defence against liability for 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. However, any individual identified with no lawful immigration status in the UK may be liable to enforcement action.
- Further information is available here. This update replaces previous guidance issued on 18 June 2021.
- Queries about the Right to Rent Scheme can be sent to RighttoRentandRighttoWork@homeoffice.gov.uk
Q1. Why are you ending the temporary adjusted right to rent checks on 5 April 2022, rather than 31 August 2021?
It ensures the Right to Rent Scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports the landlords in implementing long-term post-pandemic working practices, while maintaining the integrity of the Schemes. We have kept in contact with landlords throughout the pandemic to ensure we are supporting them to undertake right to rent checks with ease.
Further information about working safely during COVID-19 can be found here
Q2. Will I be liable for civil penalty if I have only undertaken an adjusted check?
You will maintain a defence against liability for a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 (inclusive) was carried out in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance
Should a tenant with a time-limited right to rent require a follow-up check after 5 April 2022, 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
Q3. Can I carry out an adjusted check on a tenant before 5 April 2022 if their tenancy begins on or after 6 April 2022?
Yes – the temporary adjustments to right to rent checks will remain in place until 5 April 2022. However, landlords should ensure the security & 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 6 April 2022.
Q4. 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 at https://eforms.homeoffice.gov.uk/outreach/lcs-application.ofml
Q5. Does the criminal offence remain in force?
It remains an offence to knowingly let property to an illegal migrant.