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Right to Rent Checks Simplified for Landlords

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government allowed for emergency changes to the right to rent checks that landlords must carry out on new tenants. One of the big changes was allowing the checks to take place remotely, rather than solely in person as had been the ruling since before coronavirus hit. This was to allow for both parties to minimise contact with other people, but it also proved much more convenient and now this ability to perform checks remotely has been adopted for checks going forwards.

Here are the ways that you can now perform right to rent checks:

Identity Document Verification Technology

Identity document verification technology can perform checks on tenants to ensure they are eligible to rent property in the UK. This means that landlords do not have to manually analyse their important paperwork anymore.

This technology utilises identity service providers (ISP) to ensure you remain compliant with the law in terms of who you can rent to.

When performing checks in this manner, you can use them for foreign and UK nationals. You must then take the following steps:

● Search the government’s list of approved identity service providers. One of the stipulations is that a landlord should be reasonably confident that the ISP will provide a good quality service, and using the certified list from which to pick your ISP is one way to show that you have considered this.

● Make sure that the documentation matches with the identity of the tenant before signing the agreement and letting them move in.

You should keep the results of the checks in your files during the length of the tenancy and for a year afterwards in order to provide proof that you carried them out and believed in good faith that they were accurate.

Home Office Right to Rent Checking Service

For non-UK nationals, the Home Office provides a checking service to allow you to ascertain their eligibility to rent in the country. However, there are some criteria that the tenant must meet in order to allow you to use this route.

They must meet all three of the following conditions:

● have a biometric residence card or permit

● have settled or pre-settled status

● have applied for a visa and used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document on their phone

The prospective tenant will have a share code following this process and you must ask for that and their date of birth. You can then check this against the information about them on the government’s website, where you can view a photograph to ensure it is the same person you are looking to move into your property.

If the tenant has an original document that proves their right to rent in the UK, you cannot insist that they take part in this online process.

Other Right to Rent Checks

You can also use the original face-to-face right to rent checks that existed per-Covid if you wish or if the potential renter has the documentation to hand and does not want to take the digital route. The checks that were adjusted for Covid are also still applicable until the end of September 2022.

It is important that you make sure anyone who moves into one of your rental properties is eligible to rent in England, as letting a property to someone who isn’t can lead to unlimited fines and a potential prison sentence for the landlord.

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