This month the lettings market reopened in England, meaning people are free to move in and out of properties again so long as social distancing guidelines are followed.
A member recently gave our advice team a call with a question about how they should carry out Right to Rent checks at this time, and if they are still required to do this virtually.
The government recently published guidance on this matter a few months ago, and our advisor was happy to confirm these same rules still remain in place, and go on to explain what they mean practically for the member.
Temporary changes to Right to Rent
The advisor began by stating that in normal (pre-coronavirus) circumstances, landlords in England are required to meet the tenant in person to confirm they are who they say they are -and see their qualifying right to rent documentation; usually, but not limited to, their passport.
At the end of March, the government published new guidance on carrying out right to rent checks in England in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance explains in detail how the checks can be performed online.
Our advisor explained that landlords are now allowed to conduct the checks electronically, using a video call, and tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or mobile apps, rather than sending originals. Landlords can use the landlord’s checking service from the home office if the tenant can’t provide any of the existing documents.
However, it is important to note that these measures are only temporary.
Once the electronic process reverts back to carrying out checks in person, landlords will then be expected to carry out a retrospective check on anyone who started their tenancy or required a follow up check during this period, where the temporary measures were used.
The guidance states the check should be marked with a specific phrasing:
“the individual’s tenancy agreement commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to rent check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”
This must take place within eight weeks of the covid-19 measures ending, and both checks retained for a landlord’s records. If it turns out the tenant didn’t have, or no longer has, a right to rent, the landlord must begin to take steps to end the tenancy.
The member now had a clear understanding on how to meet their legal obligations relating to right to rent in the current climate, and thanked our advisor for their time.
- Do you have a question about coronavirus and your lettings? Our guidance for landlords is updated regularly to reflect the very latest government guidance. Read more here.