Landlords: Right to Rent emergency measures have been extended
It is the duty of all landlords and letting agents to ensure that their potential tenants have the “right to rent” a property in England, this is carried out by meeting with the tenant and verifying their passports and any appropriate documentation prior to them signing a rental agreement.
Obviously as of March 2020, that became a tricky situation due to lockdown restrictions and the Government made amendments to these regulations, allowing checks to be carried out virtually. This extension was due to end now, but a further extension has been granted, so we have detailed below how this affects Landlords now and when face-to-face verifications should return…
When is the amended period extended to?
The emergency measures were set to expire on the 21st of June; however, they have now been prolonged until at least the 31st of August. This means that landlords will continue to be able to accept digital/scanned documents and verify such documents using online video identity checks.
When will in-person checks return?
As things currently stand, Landlords, letting agents and property managers will certainly need to return to in-person Right to Rent checks from 1st September. The exception to this will be lessees with Home Office status.
Have any Post-Brexit adjustments been made?
While emergency measures for Right to Rent checks have been extended, changes coming into effect for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are still coming into effect from 1st July. It’s important for landlords and letting agents to be aware of these changes.
Up to now, prospective tenants from these areas have been treated the same as British nationals. Recently, the government confirmed how letting agents and landlords will check the Right to Rent status of EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens due to Brexit.
Prospective tenants who successfully applied to the EU Settlement Scheme or for a UK visa will need to provide evidence of their immigration status. From the beginning of July, Right to Rent checks will be based on immigration status instead of national identification.
Landlords and letting agents managing properties must undertake Right to Rent checks where applicable. These must be carried out as set out in the government’s code of practice. And landlords and agents must keep up with any relevant regulation changes.
What Is the Updated Guidance On Right To Rent Checks?
Checks can be carried out over video calls (Zoom/Teams/Skype) and potential tenants can provide documentation in a scanned format rather than sending originals, but it must be underlined that if Landlords or letting agents carry out virtual checks, they MUST stringently follow the requirements:
- Renters must be asked to submit a scanned duplicate or photo of their original documents.
- Landlords must carry out a video call with the tenant. On the call, the renter needs to be asked to hold up the original documents to the camera to ensure that they can be examined against the scanned copies that were submitted.
- Landlords need to record the date of the virtual check as well as mark any files as “right to rent check carried out on [insert day] as a result of Covid-19”.
- From the 1st of September, Landlords and letting agents or property managers will be expected to return to physically inspecting papers based on the original pre-Coronavirus right to rent checks. Scanned or digital images or original documents will no longer be accepted.
Are Retrospective Right to Rent Checks Required?
Whilst the government did originally plan to include retrospective checks, such plans have since been abandoned because of the length of time that emergency measures have been in place. Because of this, there is no demand to accomplish retrospective checks on occupancies prepared between the 30th of March 2020 to the 31st of August 2021.
What happens if a Tenancy Begins After the Deadline?
Landlords that have tenancies beginning on or after the 1st of September can still perform modified right to rent checks. So long as the check is executed on or prior to the 31st of August, property managers can utilise the adjusted procedure, even if the occupancy starts after this date.
The Home Office states that landlords are still obliged to check the authenticity of the right to rent out checks. In addition, if there is the opportunity to securely perform a basic (in person) right to rent check before the deadline, it is recommended that this may be worth considering.
If as a rental property owner, you would rather leave all this in the hands of someone else, then you have come to the right place!
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