Propertymark wrote to the Immigration Minister last year, liaised with Home Office Officials and provided information to MPs highlighting concerns with the practicality of the Right to Rent guidance, as evidence showed that tenants would not understand the need for repeating checks, leaving agents vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they need to provide a statutory excuse.
The UK Government has published guidance on its website for the return of in-person Right to Rent checks from 17 May 2021, saying repeats of adjusted checks will no longer be required.
Between 20 March 2020 and 16 May 2021, agents have been permitted to check ID documents using video calls due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the guidance stated that agents and responsible landlords would need to go back and conduct retrospective checks within eight weeks of the Home Office announcing that the temporary measures were ending.
Concerns over guidance practicality
Propertymark wrote to the Home Office last year and provided briefings to the Minister and MPs highlighting concerns with the practicality of the Right to Rent guidance, as evidence showed that tenants would not understand the need for repeating checks, leaving agents vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they need to provide a statutory excuse.
When the adjusted checks were introduced, most expected them to last only a few weeks. However, as the public health crisis has stretched on, they have remained in place.
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.
Defence against a civil penalty
The revised guidance means that letting agents will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if a COVID-adjusted check was conducted “in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance”.
Right to Rent checks requires landlords/agents to determine the immigration status of all prospective adult tenants by checking ID before the start of a tenancy.