Right to Rent Checks:
Advice for landlords
and letting agents

Landlords are required to carry out right to rent checks on all prospective tenants before entering into a residential tenancy agreement in England, to ensure the tenants hold a lawful immigration status in the UK.

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in landlords facing a civil penalty of up to £3,000 for each tenant who does not have a right to rent in England, and where the correct right to rent checks were not undertaken.

From 1 July 2021, the rules surrounding right to rent checks on EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will change, and landlords will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of right to rent, except for Irish citizens.

This guide sets out what landlords and letting agents need to know about checking an individual’s right to rent residential property in England, including current COVID-19 concessions and the new guidance for European citizens.

Coronavirus concessions extended until September

Due to the impact of the pandemic, temporary adjustments have been introduced to allow landlords and letting agents to carry out right to rent checks on their prospective tenants remotely. The concessions allow the necessary checks to be carried out over video calls, with tenants permitted to send scanned copies or photos of their documents rather than sending the originals.

The Home Office previously announced that these concessions would be extended until 21 June 2021, when the UK was due to remove all restrictions on social distancing. However, following the government’s recent decision to delay step four of the roadmap out of lockdown, the Home Office has announced that adjusted right to rent checks will now be extended until 31 August 2021 (inclusive).

From 1 September 2021, landlords and letting agents must either:

  • Check the applicant’s original documents, or
  • Check the applicant’s right to rent online, if they’ve provided their share code.

How to conduct a Right to Rent check

There are two types of right to rent checks: a manual check and an online check. The type of check you will need to conduct depends on the status of the individual you intend to rent your property to.

  • Manual right to rent checks can be completed for UK and Irish nationals who can use their passport as proof of their right to rent. A manual check should also be conducted for individuals who do not hold a digital immigration status. A manual right to rent check consists of three steps:
    • Ask to see the tenant’s original documents
    • Check that the documents are valid with the tenant present
    • Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
  • Online right to rent checks are required for individuals who only hold digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. This includes most EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. To carry out an online right to rent check, you will need the applicant’s date of birth and their share code, which they can obtain online here. The check can then be completed online by visiting https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent

Full guidance for conducting both manual and online right to rent checks can be found here.

Right to Rent checks for EU citizens

Landlords are not required to carry out retrospective checks on any EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens who entered into a tenancy agreement up to and including 30 June 2021.

From 1 July you will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards from prospective tenants. From this date, you can check a prospective tenant’s right to rent online using their share code, or by checking their original documents if they do not have a UK immigration status that can be shared digitally. Acceptable documents include:

  • Irish passport or passport card
  • Frontier Worker Permit
  • Documents issued by the Crown Dependencies EU Settlement Schemes, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service
  • Certificate of Application or document issued by the UK, Jersey or Guernsey EU Settlement Schemes, confirming an application made by the 30 June deadline, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service.

The Home Office is expected to publish updated guidance on how to conduct right to rent checks from 1 July 2021 shortly. The draft Code of Practice for landlords and their agents can be viewed on the government website here. The Code of Practice also sets out how EU citizens granted leave as visitors for up to six months can prove their right to rent.

Immigration advice for landlords

If you need advice on maintaining immigration compliance when renting property, Smith Stone Walters can help.

To speak to a consultant about your requirements, please contact us today.

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