New right to rent checks are here

Written by Carly Fallon

Carly is a qualified solicitor with experience in regional and national law firms. She has a background in commercial property work and heads up LandlordSolicitors.com business development team.

June 22, 2021

Many landlords enlist the services of letting agents in order to find suitable tenants for their investment properties. However, some landlords prefer to go it alone.

There are several crucial elements to the tenant on-boarding process, from credit checks to thorough referencing. Unsurprisingly, all these things can take a significant amount of time, energy and money.

Back in March 2020, the Government introduced interim procedures, relating to right to rent checks. In order to minimise the transmission of Covid-19, landlords were permitted to conduct these identification checks remotely.

The switch to remote verification no doubt saved considerable time and money for landlords. No longer did they need to travel to meet their prospective tenants.

Currently, landlords are required to obtain copies of scanned identification documents. Next, a video call is arranged, to check that documents sent match the ones on screen. Landlords are then able to verify the identification (or not!) and document it as a true likeness. How utterly modern.

But all this is about to change, again. From 20th June, the right to rent checks will revert to pre-covid procedures and landlords will need to lace up their boots and meet prospective tenants in person.

Typically, right to rent checks involve the verification of one or two official photographic documents. For more information about which documents need to be obtained, please see the .Gov.uk Website

Once Landlords are satisfied that the original identification documents are genuine and that the photographs are a true likeness to the incoming tenant(s), then a tenancy can commence. Landlords are required to keep photocopies of all verified documents for 12 months after the end of the tenancy.

Landlords who have embraced the use of technology in the past year will be pleased to know that an alternative option is available. During the pandemic, the Government has set up a new digital system, to facilitate these checks.

Entrants into the UK will be required to enter their personal details, including a recent photograph onto a database. Landlords can access the system via a ‘share – code’, provided by the tenant.

How to conduct a right to rent check from 20th June 2020

Currently, the Government requirements are as follows:

1. Landlords should obtain either;

  •  a tenant’s original acceptable documents that allow them to live in the UK or,
  •  a ‘sharecode’ for the online service from the tenant

2. Check either;

  • the document with the tenant present or,
  • Go to ‘Check a tenant’s right to rent’ and enter the ‘sharecode’ along with the person’s date of birth.

3. Record and retain the evidence of the check.

Note: the top bullet points in 1 and 2 relate to a manual document-based checks, the bottom bullet point 3 and the second bullet points in 1 and 2 relate to an online checks. 3 applies to both a manual and online check.

The Government website reminds us that landlords could face civil charges where they let a property to someone without the right to rent. It is important that landlords familiarise themselves with this process.

More guidance is expected from the Government in the coming weeks.

If you would like any more information about this matter or any other tenancy issues, please get in touch. 01527 357775 or advice@landlordsolicitors.com

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