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Right to Rent Checks Set to Change from April 2022

Published on January 31, 2022 by Sarah Mac

Changes to Right to Rent checks are on the cards from April this year, as the temporary COVID-19 measures, put in place to allow virtual checks, are set to come to an end. A permanent online solution will replace the current regime, allowing the checks to continue to be carried out remotely, but with enhanced security, and for all nationalities.

From 6th April 2022, Right to Rent checks will be subject to a new process. In place of the temporary remote COVID-19 system, there will be a new permanent online solution which will allow the checks to be made remotely ongoing This will apply to all nationalities, and will bring enhanced security measures, for increased peace of mind for all parties involved.

What are the current Right to Rent check rules?

All landlords in England have a duty to prevent anyone without lawful immigration status from accessing the private rented sector. Right to Rent checks make this possible, by checking all prospective adult tenants before a tenancy begins, ensuring they are not disqualified from renting by reason of their immigration status.

The government published updated guidance on Right to Rent checks in December 2021. This replaced the guidance released in July of the same year, and outlined how and when to carry out a Right to Rent check.

It also referred landlords and letting agents to a variety of resource documents, namely:

Landlords and letting agents who carry out Right to Rent checks in accordance with the latest guidance and code of practice have a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty should they be found to have let property to a tenant without the legal right to rent due to their immigration status.

In other words, follow the rules and, even if your tenant doesn’t have the right to rent a property in England, if you can prove you stuck to the guidelines, you won’t face a civil penalty. Fail to do so, and you could be levied with an unlimited fine, or face a prison sentence of five years.

What are the new Right to Rent check rules from April 6th 2022?

Currently, tenants who hold a Biometric Residence Card, a Biometric Residence Permit or a Frontier Worker Permit have the option to choose whether they provide hard copies of their documents, or use an online share code.

As of April 6th 2022, the start of the new tax year, anyone who holds any of these three statuses will only be allowed to provide evidence of their right to rent by using the new Home Office online service. Physical documents in these cases will no longer be acceptable as proof as having a right to rent.

What’s more, from 6th April, all the required documentation must be verified as set out in the Right to Rent Code of Practice and the Landlord’s Guide. So, when conducting a Right to Rent check, landlords and letting agents will have to be in possession of the original documents. In other words, scanned copies or photographs of the originals will no longer be considered a viable defence against a civil penalty.

Landlords and letting agents will no doubt be relieved to learn that there is no need to retrospectively check the status of any tenants whose tenancy commenced before 5th April 2022.

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