Right to Rent scheme – what new changes do landlords need to be aware of?

Under the revised Draft Code of Practice on right to rent, the Right to Rent scheme now also applies to EEA and Swiss citizens, as of 1 July 2021. We summarise the key changes to the scheme and explain how to carry out a check below.

Services
Immigration, Real Estate
Type
News

EEA and Swiss citizens will now be required to demonstrate that they have the right to lawfully reside in the UK under the Right to Rent scheme.

Background

The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme (Scheme) was introduced in 2014 and places a responsibility on landlords to check that their tenants, aged 18 or over, have the correct legal status to reside in the UK. Landlords must request, check, and then retain copies of relevant identification documents that prove their tenant’s immigration status before the commencement of the tenancy. It is a criminal offence for a landlord to knowingly rent a residential property for occupation to a person who does not have the lawful right to reside in the UK.

Expansion to European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens

From today, 1 July 2021, under the revised Draft Code of Practice on right to rent, the Scheme will also apply to EEA and Swiss citizens who will be required to demonstrate that they have the right to lawfully reside in the UK. They will be required to provide a valid immigration status document in order to rent a residential property.

Key changes:

  • EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be able to rely solely on their passports and national identity cards as evidence of their immigration status.
  • Tenants will be expected to provide alternative documents or evidence in the form of digital status. The UKVI’s list of acceptable of documents has also been amended to now include a Republic of Ireland passport or passport card, frontier worker permit and status under the EU Settlement Scheme (‘EUSS’).
  • To evidence a right to rent a residential property, EEA and Swiss citizens (excluding Irish citizens) will be required to provide their right to reside by way of permanent residence or settled status.

How to carry out a check

The check can be carried out in three ways, outlined below.

Manual checks

There are three steps to conducting a manual check and all three must be completed to establish a statutory excuse.

First, landlords must obtain original documents from List A or List B of the acceptable documents list as set out in the code of practice and stated in Annex A of the Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks.

Secondly, in the physical presence of the prospective tenant, landlords must check:

  • the documents appear genuine and not tampered with;
  • the person presenting them is the rightful holder;
  • dates and photographs are consistent and any differences in names can be explained by evidence; and
  • any immigration permission has not expired.

Thirdly, a clear copy of each document must be made in a format which cannot be altered and retained securely. A record of the date the check was made must be made and copies must be kept for one year after the tenancy ends.

A request can be made to the Landlord Checking Service where no acceptable documents can be produced.

Online checks

EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who have status under the EUSS, the points-based immigration system or frontier worker permits can undertake an online right to rent check using the ‘view a tenant’s right to rent in England’ page on gov.uk.

Landlords do not need to see a physical document if they conduct an online check and some tenants will only have a digital immigration status due to the government’s aim to move towards a fully digital immigration system.

The tenant must first view their own right to rent record and share this with the landlord using a ‘share code’, either directly or through the service. The landlord can then enter this code, with the tenant’s date of birth, whilst on a video call with the tenant.

Landlords must check the photograph on the right to rent record is of the tenant and retain a copy of the profile page confirming the right to rent. This should be stored securely for the duration of the tenancy and for 1 year afterwards.

However, the online checking service is limited and only applies to individuals who have the following documents:

  • a current biometric residence permit;
  • a current biometric residence card;
  • status issued digitally under the EUSS;
  • status issued digitally under the points-based immigration system; and
  • eVisa holders (currently only EEA nationals with permission to stay under the Skilled Worker or Intra-Company routes).

COVID-19 temporary measures extended to 31 August 2021

In light of the government’s decision to extend the easing of lockdown, the ‘COVID-19 Temporary Adjusted Checks Guidance’ sets out a landlord’s responsibility to perform digital, rather than face-to-face checks of a prospective tenant’s right to rent. These measures have been extended until 31 August 2021.

From 1 September 2021, the COVID-19 measures will no longer be in force (unless extended by the government) and landlords will once again be required to carry out face-to-face checks or use the Home Office online service.

Retrospective checks of tenants who were checked by landlords between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 (inclusive) whilst the COVID-19 guidance was in force will not be required.

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

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

Check your tenant’s right to rent

Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks

Right to rent immigration checks: landlords’ code of practice

Brexit and Right to Rent: What landlords need to know


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 July 1, 2021.