The Home Office released updated guidance on 30 March in respect of right to rent checks during the coronavirus pandemic. These can now be done remotely, rather than in person.
Residential landlords are required to check that a tenant can legally rent in the UK if the tenancy began on or after 1 December 2014. Tenants aged 18 or over (whether named in a tenancy agreement or not) must be checked if they are using the property as their main or sole home. There are some exceptions to this, such as leases of seven years or more and tied accommodation.
As of 30 March, landlords are temporarily not required to see a tenant’s original document and meet in person in order to carry out a compliant right to rent check. Landlords can now request that tenants send their document electronically and carry out the check over video call, instead of in person. This is not a permanent change and landlords will be required to check original documents in the normal way retrospectively, once Covid-19 measures end.
Landlords should still ensure they are checking prescribed acceptable documents that evidence the right to rent, listed in the right to rent check guidance.
To carry out a remote check
- Ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
- Arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
- Record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19”
The Landlord’s Checking Service should still be used if the tenant cannot show their documents.
Once the Covid-19 measures end landlords must carry out retrospective checks on all tenants whose documents were checked under the temporary measures. The retrospective check must be made within eight weeks of the measures ending. Records of both checks must be kept on file.
Please get in touch with our immigration team if you require advice on how to carry out a compliant check and to ensure checked documents confer the right to rent on a tenant.
Articles and commentary by our legal experts on the impact of Covid-19 are all available here.