Letting agents in England have been warned to make sure they’re up to date with a raft of looming Right to Rent changes.
New laws coming in on 6th April mean they will need to determine the immigration status of all prospective adult tenants using the government’s newly digitised system.
Temporary adjustments due to the pandemic will end on 5th April when checks can no longer be carried out over video calls. Penalties for non-compliance range from £1,000 for the first offence to unlimited fines and a prison sentence.
Letting agents and landlords can use the Right to Rent Online Checking Service on GOV.UK to view the status of existing and prospective tenants – there is no need to check physical documents.
From 6th April, landlords and letting agents will need to use the Right to Rent Online Checking Service for Biometric Residence Card/Permit holders.
It will then no longer be possible to use someone’s Biometric Residence Card/Permit for a manual Right to Rent check. Retrospective checks will not be required on cardholders who had previously used a physical document to demonstrate their Right to Rent.
But if landlords and letting agents decide to do a retrospective online check and identify that an existing tenant no longer has a Right to Rent, they must make a report to the Home Office using the online form, to maintain a statutory excuse against prosecution.
Also from that date, landlords and letting agents will be able to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology service providers to carry out digital checks on behalf of British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport or Irish passport card.
Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, says the government is moving away from a system reliant on individuals proving their Right to Rent through physical documents to a more streamlined, digital system.
He adds: “The changes are three months away and agents are urged to get ahead of the game and take the time now to understand how it will impact them going forward.”