Right to Rent reforms: changes residential landlords need to be aware of

Earlier this month, on the 6th April 2022 the UK Government issued changes to the Code of Practice landlords must follow to check tenants have a ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK. In this blog, we explain what the changes are and the steps landlords need to take to ensure they remain compliant. 

Why do landlords have to check a tenants’ Right to Rent?

In England, every private landlord has a legal responsibility to ensure residential tenants have a legal right to be in the UK and has a Right to Rent in accordance with immigration law. 

Section 22 of The Immigration Act 2014 states landlords must not authorise an adult over 18 to occupy a property as their only or main residence unless the individual is a British or Irish citizen or has the ‘Right to Rent’ in England on their immigration status. Checks must be carried out on all adult tenants over 18, even if they have a British passport. 

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in 2014 and applies to any residential tenancy agreements entered into on or after the 1st of December 2014 in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell or Walsall and any entered into on or after the 1st of February 2016 for the rest of England. 

You may also be responsible for carrying out Right to Rent checks if you have a lodger, are sub-letting a property or are appointed as an agent by the landlord to manage right-to-rent checks. If you are unsure of whether you are responsible for carrying out a Right to Rent check, then you should seek appropriate professional advice. If the appropriate checks haven’t been carried out, you can be fined up to £1,000 or up to £3,000 if you’ve failed to carry out checks on more than one occasion. 

How the legislation on Right to Rent checks changed on 6th April 2022

The below changes came into force this month which landlords have to comply with when carrying out Right to Rent checks on or after 6 April 2022.

Digital checks for British and Irish citizens 

Landlords will be allowed to use a certified identity service provider (IDSP) to verify British and Irish citizens’ Right to Rent as long as they hold a valid passport or Irish passport card. 

Landlords must obtain the Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) check from their IDSP and keep this record to prove checks were carried out in accordance with the latest guidance. 

Landlords mustn’t treat individuals who don’t hold a valid passport or don’t wish to prove their identity via an IDSP less favourably and should have an alternative manual document-based Right to Rent check process in place for these situations.

Digital-only checks for biometric cardholders, Biometric residence permits and Frontier Worker permits 

Right to Rent checks, checking physical Biometric Residence Cards, Biometric Residence Permits and Frontier Worker (Seasonal Worker) permits are no longer accepted. 

The Right to Rent checks for individuals with these immigration documents or an eVisa can now only be carried out using the Home Office online Right to Rent service – in a move to fully digitalise the immigration system. 

If a tenant was checked before the 6th April 2022 with their physical biometric card or permit, following the legal guidance at that time, then landlords will continue to have a statutory excuse. If you are unsure if you still have a valid statutory excuse, we recommend seeking professional advice. 

Temporary pandemic related Right to Rent check changes remain available 

Changes that were introduced to allow identity verification to take place safely during the pandemic have been extended, now remaining in place until 30th September 2022.   

The three main changes still in place are:

  • You can continue to carry out checks for British and Irish citizens via a video call. 
  • Tenants can send scanned or photographed documents to be checked via email or a mobile phone app.
  • Landlords should use the Home Office Landlord Checking service if a tenant or prospective tenant cannot provide appropriate documents. Tenants can also evidence their Right to Rent by sharing their immigration status online using the Home Office Right to Rent service. 

You can access the full guidance on the latest changes to the Code of Practice here. If you need further advice on this or any other landlord and tenant matter, please contact our specialist landlord and tenant team on info@bridgelawsolicitors.co.uk or call 0161 427 0084. 

Written by Claire Stewart 

Landlords, Residential Landlords, Right to Rent, Tenancy Agreements, Tenants

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