U-turn on right to rent checks

Government U-turns on need to repeat Right to Rent checks once lockdown eases.;
Right to rent U-turn

Government officials have recently updated their guidance on Right to Rent verification checks on tenants.

The new legislation states that landlords are no longer obliged to complete Right to Rent verification on any tenants who have previously had Covid-adjusted checks.

Throughout the pandemic, landlords were required to check tenant’s ID documents virtually, which could be done through video calls and other online formats.

Guidance from the Home Office further stated that landlords would need to check these documents in person, as well, once restrictions enforced through the pandemic allowed this.

Many landlords would therefore be needing to check the ID documents of their tenants from May 17th this year, when indoor socialising and meetings can resume.

However, new guidance has been issued by the government saying that this is no longer necessary, with a statement demonstrating a degree of sympathy for the challenges landlords face, which states that this change ‘reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords during this difficult time’.

ARLA Propertymark lobbied for U-turn

The letting agents group ARLA Propertymark believe that they may have been responsible for influencing the government’s U-turn on these verification checks.

This is attributed to the fact that they consistently lobbied government officials, because they believed that tenants would not understand the repetition behind these verification checks.

The challenges faced by the original stance were numerous.

Landlords and letting agents could have been faced with civil penalties when providing a statutory excuse.

Letting agents would have been faced with problems surrounding social distancing, as numerous tenants would have been visiting their offices on a daily basis to provide their ID documentation.

Landlords on the other hand would have needed to find a suitable location, which abides by social distancing measures, to meet tenants and verify their documents.

The updated guidelines mean that landlords and letting agents have a defence against civil penalties, if they completed previous Covid-adjusted verification checks.

A statement released by the Home Office highlights that these checks must have been conducted ‘in the prescribed manner or as set out in the Covid-19 adjusted checks guidance’.

Furthermore, letting agents and landlords will not need to worry about other issues around completing these checks in person, such as social distancing.

A relief for many landlords and agents

The revised guidance may therefore be a relief to many, particularly those landlords and letting agents who may have had difficulties in completing all the verification checks again.

This was reiterated by the ARLA Propertymarks policy and campaigns manager Timothy Douglas, who stated:

“We are very pleased that the Home Office has listened to our concerns about the practical barriers that would have made it impossible for letting agents in England to repeat the volume of adjusted checks carried out over the last year due to the pandemic.”

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.