Landlords of properties throughout England must check that someone has the right to rent before letting them a property. Your basic obligation to carry out checks on tenants to confirm that they have the legal right to live in the UK has not changed, however the process around documentation has been simplified.
The recent changes are designed to make it easier for landlords to conduct these checks and for individuals to prove their right to rent.
From the 25th November the government have launched an online checking service. It is important that you ask all prospective tenants to demonstrate their right to rent using either a physical document check or by using the Home Office online service.
To carry out a right to rent check you need to follow the following steps:
1. Obtain either;
- a tenant’s original acceptable documents that allow them to live in the UK or,
- a ‘sharecode’ for the online service from the tenant
2. Check either;
- the document with the tenant present or,
- go to ‘Check a tenant’s right to rent’ and enter the ‘sharecode’ along with the person’s date of birth. During the pandemic the
3. Record and retain evidence of the check;
Home Office Online Service
This is a real-time check that can be made on:
- Non-EEA citizens who have a valid biometric resident permit or card
- EEA citizens who have status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
- Those whose leave will be granted under the new points-based system
The Home Office online service works on the basis that the tenant views their own right to rent record. They may then share this information with you by providing a ‘share code’. When this code is entered along with the person’s date of birth, it enables you to access their right to rent profile page. The share code will be valid for 30 days,
As a landlord you can encourage tenants to use this system but cannot insist on it. If the online system is not something your prospective tenant want to take part in then you can continue to make checks on tenants in the existing document-based way.
The document list for non-visa national visitors from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA who enter the UK using an ePassport gate has been amended. Now they only need to provide:
- a valid passport, and
- a paper or electronic document (such as a boarding pass) showing entry into the UK within the last six months
New documents issued to third-country-national family members granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme can now be accepted as evidence of a Right to Rent UK birth and adoption certificates are now acceptable as proof of nationality (both short and long versions), making it easier for British citizens without a passport to demonstrate their Right to Rent
Note: EEA citizens
Although the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 1st January 2021, EEA citizens can continue to be able to prove their Right to Rent with a valid passport or national ID card until 30th June 2021.
The process for when checks can be done has also been amended:
Right to rent checks must be undertaken within specific time limits:
- A check on a person with an unlimited right to rent may be undertaken at any time before the residential agreement is entered into
- A check on a person with a time-limited right to rent must be undertaken and recorded no earlier than 28 days before the start date of the tenancy agreement
Conducting a right to rent check during COVID-19
Ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app.
- Arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents.
- Record the date you made the check and mark it as “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19
If the tenant has any difficulty providing certain documents, you can use the online Landlord’s Checking Service.
If you have any questions you can speak to your local branch.