It is a legal requirement for a landlord to check the residency status of any new tenant. Historically this has been achieved by the landlord or their agent physically checking and taking copies of approved documents such as passports, residency cards and household bills. During the pandemic, face-to-face meetings were not possible and the government introduced new methods of checking tenant’s documents as a temporary measure. In this article we will look at Right to Rent Checks and the changes which came into effect on the 6th April 2022.
What are right to Rent Checks
As part of their measures to crack down on illegal immigrants, the Government, in early 2016, implemented a new law as part of the Immigration Act 2014 called the Right to Rent scheme which legally required landlords to check that their tenants had the legal right to be in the country. As part of this, the landlord or their agent was required to check and retain copies of original identity documents. When Covid hit in 2020 checking the documents physically was not possible during the lockdowns, so the Government amended the rules to allow scanned copies to be accepted and for them to be checked via video call. For foreign nationals with biometric residence cards or permits the check could also be carried out online using the Landlord checking service.
New Right to Rent Checks
From the 6th April 2022, landlords will no longer be able to accept physical documents from foreign nationals who have biometric or digital proof of their residency status. The prospective tenant will have to register themselves and their documents with the Home Office and create an online account. They will then get a share code to give to the landlord who will also use the on-line system to check the residency status. If a foreign national does not have biometric documentation, then a landlord can still check physical, original documents and take copies of them.
UK and Irish Nationals
From April the 6th digital checks for UK and Irish nationals will become more and more the norm and this will be done through Identity service providers who use Document Validation Technology under the UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework. At the moment, however, this is not mandatory and Landlords can still accept physical documents for UK and Irish Nationals. These Identity service providers will be accredited by UKAS and only accredited service providers can be used. During the course of 2022 more providers will be accredited under the scheme. The new right to rent checks are going digital for two main reasons: firstly, because biometric and digital documents are harder to replicate than standard paper documents and the online service, being digital is less prone to human errors. The scheme for UK and Irish nationals is still very much in its infancy and online checks are not yet mandatory, but it is likely that, as the scheme progresses, it will become mandatory to carry out online checks for those with biometric and digital documents.