Right to Rent – what has changed?

New legislation, in force since 2 November 2020, has introduced new measures to modernise the ‘Right to Rent’ checks required by landlords and letting agents, intended to simplify the process of carrying out those checks and for individuals to demonstrate their right to rent in the UK.

Services
Immigration, Real Estate
Type
News

In our article of 17 June 2020, we discussed how the 2014 Immigration Act introduced the ‘Right to Rent’ in the private residential sector and that in April 2020 the Court of Appeal found the scheme justifiable as a means of immigration control. The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme places responsibility on landlords to check that any tenants, age 18 or over, have legal status to reside in the UK.

The government introduced new legislation and a revised Landlord’s Code of Practice for the scheme, both of which came into force on 2 November 2020.

Landlords should not let property for use by an adult who cannot satisfy a right to rent check. As with the ‘Right to Work’ checks for employers, a failure to carry out said checks is not in itself an offence. However, carrying the checks out correctly provides a statutory excuse against a penalty, should a landlord be found to have rented a property to an individual who did not have the ‘right’ to rent it, and therefore mitigates risk. 

The Order: 

  • Adjusts the prescribed requirements that a landlord or letting agent must comply with. It has introduced a Home Office online checking system, which is due to become “live” on 25 November where prospective tenants can now also evidence their right to rent online.
  • The government advises that for online checks, the landlord or letting agent (where they have accepted responsibility for complying with the scheme on behalf of landlords) may demonstrate that they have done the check by saving the document electronically or keeping a printed copy of the PDF page confirming the individual’s right to rent for 12 months after the end of the tenancy.
  • Adds to the list of documents that are deemed acceptable to supply as evidence, including a UK short birth and adoption certificate (as well as the long versions of these documents which were already on the list). This is intended to make it easier for UK nationals who do not have passports to demonstrate their right to rent. 
  • Permits the combination of a national passport and proof of arrival within the last six months (such as a physical or electronic plane/boat/train ticket or boarding pass) by visitor nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, to demonstrate a right to rent. This is designed to help those who have entered into the UK through ePassport gates or other routes of entry without having their national passport stamped by an immigration officer on arrival. 
  • Permits documents issued to non-EEA family members evidencing leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Landlords already benefit from the temporary adjustments to the process due to COVID-19, allowing landlords to make the checks remotely as outlined in guidance published by the Home Office on 30 March 2020.

The new changes are relatively minor but are intended to simplify the evidence collecting process. However the rules still require landlords to effectively operate as immigration officers in carrying out checks on individuals’ immigration status and so landlords will want to review the Code of Practice to ensure that they are not at risk of being non-compliant. 

We will watch this space as there are likely to be further changes to the ‘Right to Rent’ rules in 2021, once the new points-based immigration system comes into effect.

You can find out more about how to check your tenant’s Right to Rent at: 

www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents/how-to-check
www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-landlord-right-to-rent-checks
www.gov.uk/government/publications/landlords-guide-to-right-to-rent-checks
www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice
www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/preparing-landlords-for-the-right-to-rent.shtml

If you have any further questions please do get in touch with Chetal Patel from our Immigration team or Amanda Gray in our Real Estate team who would be happy to assist you further.


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of November 23, 2020.