Today marks the launch of the new Home Office online Right to Rent checking service. Alongside temporary COVID-19 changes to Right to Rent, the government also made a number of permanent changes, as detailed in the GOV.UK landlord guide published in November.

New Home Office online Right to Rent checker for limited scenarios

A Home Office online Right to Rent checking service has been introduced to landlords to verify Right to Rent for those coming into the UK.

However, this is only available for the following:

  • Non-EEA nationals with a current biometric resident permit or card
  • EEA nationals and their family members with status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Those with status under the points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021

Tenants will choose to complete an online form which includes their photograph and details of whether they have right to rent and work. This page is shared to the landlord or agent via a ‘share code’, displaying the tenant’s name, photo and if they have the right to rent. Landlords or letting agents can verify that the photograph matches the tenant, and can keep the document for their records.

The online service allows tenant verification to be carried out by video call. Agents also don't need to see or retain copies of physical documents, as the right to rent information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.

While this may help landlords and letting agents stay compliant without having to "play border control" (the Home Office indicates whether the tenant has Right to Rent for you) the checker is not currently mandated. Therefore, the tenant and landlord can continue with manual checks if they prefer.

The online service will be available on GOV.UK from 25 November 2020. From that date, you can use the online service on the ‘View a tenant’s right to rent in England’ page on GOV.UK. RentProfile can also use these Home Office checks to determine Right to Rent in our Referencing checks.

Temporary online Right to Rent checks for COVID-19

Before COVID-19, the law required either a landlord or letting agent to meet the tenant and review their Right to Rent documentation in person, then taking a copy.

More recently and in response to COVID-19 the government has allowed checks to be carried out digitally, including the ability for documents to be submitted and verified electronically.

We have therefore implemented online Right to Rent checks into our Referencing and Onboarding products.

  • Tenants can securely send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks during Referencing, rather than sending originals.
  • RentProfile carries out checks over a video call, in which the photo/scanned document can be remotely cross-referenced and verified.

As well as RentProfile's online Right to Rent checks, we hope to help letting agents stay compliant beyond COVID-19 with our new capability to carry out Right to Rent checks on viewings (read more about this in our blog post here). To find out more, contact us at support@rentprofile.co.

Visitor nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA

Those entering the UK as a visitor or business visitor from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA will be granted automatic leave to enter for a maximum period of six months and will not need any further documents to determine their right to rent.

The above visitor nationals do not need a visa and will not have UK stamps in their passport, but will have a right to stay and rent in the UK for six months.

Therefore, nationals of the above countries are permitted to use a combination of their passport, plus evidence of when they arrived in the UK to demonstrate their right to rent. This may include a boarding pass, e-ticket or booking confirmation into the UK.

The end of free movement and Brexit’s changes to Right to Rent

Before the UK’s Brexit transition period ends on 1 January 2021, agents and landlords have been advised that Right to Rent checks with EU nationals can continue as normal. This means that for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020, landlords can continue to accept their passports and national identity cards as evidence of Right to Rent.

However, citizens from these places have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

From 1 January 2021, the government is replacing free movement with a controversial points-based immigration system, wherein EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally. This status will be used to evidence their Right to Rent (in the Home Office online checker or otherwise).

We are intrigued to see the response to the Home Office online Right to Rent checker from tenants, landlords and agents. Will these online checks become mandatory for tenants post-Brexit? We can only wait and see whether this update will spur the government to continue harnessing tech in the letting industry.

Contact us at support@rentprofile.co to find out how RentProfile can help your agency with Right to Rent checks.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for general information purposes and should not be construed as legal advice or official guidance.