Understanding right to rent
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Understanding Right-to-Rent

The end of the year often means new rules and legislation for landlords to adjust to, and this time around is no different. October 1st brought in new rules for both Right to Work and Right to Rent, ordering that any letting agents or landlords must comply with the updated guidelines.

The Government announced a removal of the interim guidance which was introduced during the pandemic and allowed identify verification to take place via video call. This change will impact a substantial number of those working and renting within such a large sector.

A lot of publicity has been given to the Right to Work changes, as they will impact every company who employs staff, but less has been discussed on public platforms about Right to Rent changes, and this knowledge gap could cause problems for letting agents and landlords who, as a result, do not comply with the updated rules.

What is Right to Work and Right to Rent?

The two schemes are both considered to be a vital measure in tackling and deterring illegal immigration into the UK with the intention of preventing people who don’t have lawful immigration status from working and renting accommodation.

If an individual’s immigration and citizenship status doesn’t give them the Right to Rent in England, they mustn't be allowed to do so, and letting agents and landlords will need to ensure that nobody slips through the gaps when it comes to securing a tenancy in their property.

Prospective tenants have a right to rent in UK if:

  • They are a British or EEA citizen
  • They have indefinite leave (without restriction) to remain in the UK, or have settled status
  • They have permission to be in the UK (for example, if they are currently on a work or student visa)
  • They have been granted a time-limited right to rent by the Home Office 

If the tenant’s permission to live in the UK has a time limit, the landlord must do a follow up check after 12 months or when the tenant’s leave to remain ends if this is sooner.

What are the new Right to Rent rules?

In order to alleviate the chances of unlawful residence in the UK, letting agents and landlords are now legally obligated to conduct Right to Rent checks manually, via the Home Office Online Scheme, or through an Identity Service Provider (IDSP).

A combination of factors mean it isn’t a straight-forward transition from video checks to in-person checks. There are now different requirements depending on the status of the prospective tenant, which landlords and agents will need to familiarise themselves with.

However, face-to-face checks must resume for British and Irish citizens, replacing video calls which have been allowed since the start of the pandemic.

Agents and landlords are still permitted to complete the checks digitally, but to do so, they will be required to sign up to a UK Government-certified and paid-for digital identity service provider (IDSP).

Put simply, IDSP uses digital technology (also known as Document Validation Technology, or IDVT) to automatically check a prospective tenant’s right to rent in the UK.

Video checks are no longer acceptable like they were during the pandemic, and Right to Rent checks must now be completed manually while the prospective tenant is physically present in the room, or by making use of the digital upgrade.

For more advice on Government legislation, get in touch with us today.

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