ARLA Propertymark has significant concerns about the validity of the updated guidance given that it does not reflect the advice given in the Code of Practice and as a result we are urgently seeking reassurance from Government that they are planning to resolve the disparity.
Changes made by the UK Border Force mean that individuals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA (a group known as B5JSSK) have been able to enter the country using eGates at UK points of entry since 20 May 2019.
The use of eGates means that those individuals will not have their passport endorsed with a stamp, instead they will be verbally advised of their length of stay and associated conditions by border force staff.
If a visitor from one of these countries intends to reside in the UK for more than six months, they will need a visa which agents will be able to check and copy for their records, conducting a follow up check as necessary.
Any visitor from one of the B5JSSK countries who is not a visa holder is automatically granted leave to enter the UK for a maximum period of six months and has the Right to Rent a property for the duration of their lawful stay. However, the new arrangements will mean that their passport will not be endorsed to show their date of entry and their documentation may not satisfy the existing criteria for a Right to Rent check.
The Home Office guidance states:
'If they wish to rent accommodation in the private rented sector as their only or main home, a landlord will be able to establish the individual’s Right to Rent status by checking their passport together with evidence of the date they last travelled to or entered the UK.'
Acceptable evidence of entry to the UK may include (but is not restricted to) one of the following, or a combination of:
- An original or copy* of a boarding pass or electronic boarding pass for air, rail or sea travel to the UK, establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months;
- An original or copy* airline, rail or boat ticket or e-ticket establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months;
- Any type of booking confirmation (original or copy*) for air, rail or sea travel to the UK establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months;
- Any other documentary evidence which establishes the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.
*a copy can be a hardcopy such as a photocopy or an electronic copy such as a screenshot
Immigration entry rules are governed by a different framework to Right to Rent checks meaning that the minimum period for a time limited check is 12 months and agents can only schedule a follow up check prior to the end of the 12 month period (despite potentially knowing that the tenant initially had leave to remain for only 6 months). In the majority of cases, the tenant will have left before the end of the 12-month period however in the event of challenge, the agents' evidence of a correctly administered 12-month check will provide a solid basis for a statutory excuse against civil penalty.
The new and extended guidance also contains greater focus on ensuring that agents understand the consequences of claiming ignorance, emphasising that agents must make reasonable enquiries to find out who will be living at the property and making checks on all adult occupiers.