Right to Rent changes - what do landlords need to know?

News at Howland Jones | 01/06/2022

The “Landlord’s Guide to Right to Rent Checks” has been updated by the Home Office. These changes came into force on April 6 2022 to improve the way that Right to Rent checks are conducted.

Right to Rent checks require letting agents and landlords across England to carry out identity checks that validate the immigration status of all tenants and other adult occupiers within the property.

During this process, identity documents that prove the legal status of the prospective tenant must be presented as valid proof.

What key changes were made?

Right to Rent checks were carried out in person before the pandemic. However, to help limit the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus, the method was altered to make them online only.

The Covid-adjusted checks using video calls will continue to be accepted until September 30 and they no longer require repeat physical checks. 

Once adjusted checks come to an end, UK and Irish nationals will require digital checks through Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT).

IDSPs can be appointed in exchange for a fee to act on behalf of a landlord. They verify the identity of prospective and existing tenants on a remote and digital basis.

Hard copy documents for BJ5SSK (nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA), UK, and Irish nationals can continue to be used. Landlords must not disregard applicants who prefer to submit hard copy documents, even if an ISDP is offered.

The list of documents that are accepted during Right to Rent checks was updated at the start of April.

On April 6 2022, physical copies of Frontier Work Permits (FWPs), Biometric Residence Cards (BRC), and Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) were removed from the list of acceptable documents.

BRC, BRP, and FWP holders are now obligated to generate a share code using the Home Office online system.

Why are these changes important for landlords in England?

These changes completely alter the way that landlords conduct Right to Rent checks. There are already over 168 rules and regulations that apply to the private rental sector, and these are regularly updated.

The government’s English Private Landlord Survey revealed that 38% of participants do not check a tenant’s right to rent. Landlords who fall into this category pose a serious risk.

To avoid penalties and remain compliant, landlords should familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations, and work with an experienced letting agent to ensure they are playing by the rules. The code of practice for landlords can help prevent checks from being conducted in a discriminatory or illegal fashion. 

Seek legal advice from the very best experts in the private rental sector as they will give meaningful guidance. Failure to stay up to date could result in a civil penalty of up to £3,000 or criminal sanction.

These changes aim to improve the private rental sector, with IDSPs potentially benefitting landlords in the long term as they can help landlords and agents free up time to conduct other pressing tasks and they allow accurate checks to happen at scale.

Here at Howland Jones, we can help you to come to terms with the Right to Rent changes, no matter your property journey. We can ensure that Right to Rent checks on all your tenancies are happening in the correct way.

Our offices are based in the village of Measham in the East Midlands, and we cover areas such as North West Leicestershire, South Derbyshire, Hinckley & Bosworth, North Warwickshire, Tamworth, Swadlincote, and Ibstock. You can find out all about us by getting in contact here.