Propertymark highlights practical concerns with Right to Rent

Propertymark has written to the Home Office to warn that agents will not be able to comply with current expectations to repeat Right to Rent checks completed during the lockdown period, when COVID restrictions are lifted.

The guidance rolled out in March, states that agents can conduct adjusted checks via video call but must go back and conduct retrospective checks within eight weeks of the Home Office announcing that the temporary measures are ending. Recent sampling of members, showed that the vast majority of Right to Rent checks carried out since March, have been conducted using the adjusted process in order to comply with public health guidance.

When adjusted checks were introduced, all parties expected them to be in place for a few weeks, however as the public health crisis has stretched on, the guidance has been in force for nearly nine months and in that time, thousands of new tenancies have been set up across England, with many more tenancies completing the same arrangements for follow up checks for tenants with time-limited Right to Rent status.

Evidence of routine follow-up checks, shows that tenants will not understand the need for a retrospective check and therefore will not attend offices to take part, leaving agents vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they need to provide a statutory excuse.

Given the volume of checks that will now have built up, the requirement for an audit trail of activity alongside adjusted checks for the same tenancies, and the juxtaposition with other developments in Right to Rent caused by the end of the Brexit transition period, the majority of agents will simply fail to comply with the requirement to deliver retrospective checks.

With the time that has now lapsed since the introduction of adjusted checks, it is essential that the Home Office accepts adjusted Right to Rent checks on tenancies that started during the public health crisis.

Phase three rollout of Right to Rent checks for tenancies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has been indefinitely postponed. Letting agents have worked really hard to support tenants throughout recent months, maintaining properties and moving tenants safely. This is an opportunity to respond to the needs of tenants, landlords and agents by removing the need for unnecessary, duplicate checks and allowing the sector to focus on meeting other legal requirements and supporting progress towards to the new points-based immigration system through the first half of 2021.

Timothy Douglas Policy and Campaigns Manager | Propertymark