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Coronavirus response: Changes made to the Right To Rent process

As a landlord you must check that a tenant or lodger has the right to rent your property in England. You need to check all new tenants, even if they’re not on the tenancy agreement, if they are over 18.

It’s important to make sure that all tenants are legally allowed to live in England, so it’s critical they are done correctly, but usually these checks are done in person – so, what’s changed because of the Coronavirus outbreak?

The government had released new temporary guidance for completing the Right To Rent checks in light of Coronavirus, which came into force from 30th March 2020. 

 

Making the checks:
  • Scanned or Photographed Copies of Documents: The tenants should scan a copy of the documents required to you either via a scanner or by an app on their phone. You should print a copy of these which you retain for your files.

 

  • Video Call: You should have a stable connection so you can do the “in-person” checks over a clear image and sound. We recommend Zoom as a great platform to use for this as it’s free and easy to use. You can also use WhatsApp video call, Facebook Messenger call or any other video conferencing option, if you have access to them. Use WiFi rather than mobile data as the quality will be significantly better. During the video call you should ask the prospective tenants to hold up the documents to the camera - the scans or photographs you’ve received should be true likenesses of the documents

 

  • Recording the date and details: On your copy of the documents, you must mark the date and note that “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [date] due to COVID-19”
 
What if they can’t provide the documents I need?

You must contact the Landlord’s Checking Service if the prospective tenants cannot provide the documents, which may be harder to get copies of due to COVID-19. Fill the form in online and they’ll get back in touch with you within 2 days. Retain that response, because you may need it to avoid any civil penalties.

After the measures are lifted:

The government will let you know in advance when the measures will end. After that time, you will need to undertake retrospective checks on any tenancies which commenced during this period or required a follow up check during this time. All checks should also revert back to the original way of doing them.

Retrospective checks need the following:

  • To take place within 8 weeks of the coronavirus measures coming to an end
  • To be kept with the original right to rent check which took place during the time the coronavirus measures were in place
  • To be marked “the individual’s tenancy agreement commenced on [date]. The prescribed right to rent check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

If, during the retrospective check following coronavirus measures being lifted, you find that the tenant(s) did not have the right to rent, you must take steps to end the tenancy immediately.

If any tenant requiring a follow-up check is found to no longer have the right to rent, you must contact the Home Office immediately.

If you are not sure on any of the guidance cited above, check out the full guidance here or get in touch via the Landlord’s Helpline on 0300 069 9799.

 

The information above is provided as a guide and in no way should be considered legal advice.

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