Right to rent checks have been a legal requirement in England since the 1st January 2016 and they were introduced to ensure that anyone renting a property or lodging in a property had the right to legally be in the country. In order to comply with the law Landlords or their appointed agents have to check that adult tenants will live in the property as their main home; inspect original documents that show the prospective tenant has the right to be in the UK and that these documents are valid and keep copies of these documents along with the date the check was made.
The Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) (Amendment) Order 2020 changed the way in which checks could be carried out to allow a digital check and the new checking service was introduced on the 25th of November 2020.
One thing to highlight is that, despite the new procedure, the checks can still be legally carried out in the old way with Landlords obtaining and checking paper documents. In fact, there will still be cases where a prospective tenant’s immigration status has not been logged on the system for various reasons and in these cases, there will need to be a manual check of the documents.
Under the new system, the landlord or their agent will not need to physically check documents. The prospective tenant will be able to provide a share code which is unique to them and with that code and the date of birth of the tenant, the right to rent check can be carried out on the government’s check a right to rent site.
To get the share code, the tenant will need to check their Home office right to rent record using the government’s prove your right to rent service. The system will then provide the opportunity to share this status with a prospective landlord or their agent.
Once the landlord or agent has entered the share code and the date of birth of the tenant, the system will then give a clear indication whether the prospective tenant has the right to rent or whether further checks are required. Conveniently the system will also provide a record of the check for the landlord or the agent to keep on file to show that they have carried out the appropriate checks. Bear in mind that a landlord or agent cannot force a prospective tenant to use the new online system and should the tenant not wish to use the online service, the landlord or their agent should carry out a manual check of the documents.
The online service can be used to check prospective tenants who hold one of the following:
• a current biometric residence permit;
• a current biometric residence card; or
• status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme
• status under the points-based immigration system
Full guidance on the right to rent checks can be found on the Government website which contains the updated guidance on the new digital checks.
The new system is designed to make the right to rent checks simpler and quicker, especially for times when the landlord or agent are unfamiliar with the various document types and their validity.