Coronavirus and Right to Rent Checks
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Coronavirus and right to rent checks
Right to rent checks are often a difficult enough process for landlords and tenants at the best of times. landlords often dislike the hassle involved in carrying out the right to rent checks on Immigration status and tenants can find it difficult to produce the right paperwork quickly enough in a very fast London property rental market. If the rules on right to rent checks are difficult to follow in normal times just imagine how much harder it has been for both landlords and tenants during the Covid 19 outbreak and social distancing rules. The government has thankfully introduced a temporary change to the right to rent checks during the coronavirus outbreak.
If you need legal advice about any aspect of landlord and tenant law or personal Immigration law then the landlord and tenant and personal Immigration law teams at OTS Solicitors can help you. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form and we will set up a remote appointment by video conference, Skype or telephone appointment.
Right to rent checks and changes for Covid 19
The government has announced some welcome news that the rules on right to rent checks for landlords renting out property have been temporarily changed because of Covid 19 and the difficulties of complying with the normal right to rent checks during a global pandemic and the government imposed coronavirus movement and travel restrictions.
With effect from the 30 March 2020 the following temporary changes have been made to the rules surrounding right to rent checks:
Right to rent checks can be carried out via video calls
Tenants can send landlords scanned documents or a photocopy of documents for their right to rent check to be carried out using email or a mobile app
Tenants don’t need to send original documents
If tenants can't provide documents then a landlord should use the Home Office Landlord Checking Service.
The new guidelines emphasise that:
Right to rent checks must still be carried out
The rules on the documents and paperwork needed for right to rent checks haven’t changed – just how they are provided
If a landlord rents out a property without carrying out a right to rent check then it remains an offence
The relaxation in the right to rent check rules and how the right to rent check documents are produced is only temporary. The government hasn’t given an end date for the temporary measures to cease taking effect
After the end of the temporary right to rent check measures landlords will need to carry out retrospective right to rent checks on tenants.
What do the temporary right to rent check rule changes mean for landlords and tenants?
The temporary changes to how right to rent checks are carried out are to help ensure that tenants aren’t discriminated against because they may fall into the category who find it harder to produce right to rent check documents because of the coronavirus outbreak
Tenants can send their landlord a scanned copy or a photograph of their original documents, either by email or using a mobile app
The landlord and tenant should then do a video call. The purpose of that call is for the tenant to hold up their original paperwork so the landlord can check the images against the scanned or emailed paperwork they have been sent by the tenant
The landlord should record the date they carried out the remote right to rent check and record and mark it as “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [specify date] due to COVID-19”
If the tenant can't produce the right documents then a landlord should contact the Landlord Checking Service. The government says it can take two days for checks to be completed by the Service. The Checking Service response should be kept as evidence that the Service was used and a right to rent check was undertaken.
What happens after the temporary coronavirus right to rent check changes end?
The government has said that the new Covid 19 right to rent check measures are temporary but without end date and that they will give advance notice when the measures will end.
Once the temporary arrangements are over it is ‘’back to normal’’ and a resumption of the old rules on how to carry out right to rent checks but importantly landlords will need to carry out retrospective checks on tenants who:
Began a tenancy and used the temporary right to rent check measures or
Needed a follow-up right to rent check during the period of temporary measures.
The rules say that the retrospective right to rent checks must be conducted within eight weeks of the temporary coronavirus right to rent check measures ending. It is important that landlords keep both the temporary check and the retrospective right to rent check and it is also essential that both checks are dated.
The government says that the Home Office will not take any enforcement action against landlords if the temporary Covid 19 right to rent check measures are followed as well as the retrospective right to rent check.
If a landlord discovers that a tenant doesn’t have the right to rent after they have carried out the retrospective right to rent check, then the rules say that the tenancy agreement must be ended.
Although landlord and tenant solicitors have welcomed the temporary right to rent checking measures because many tenants were saying that social distancing and lockdown measures were making it extremely difficult to comply with right to rent checks and to therefore rent property, the emphasis is on the temporary nature of the changes and the fact that the rues haven’t changed on what documents need to be produced to satisfy a right to rent check but just the means of how the paperwork is checked.
Landlord and tenant solicitors
If you need legal advice about any aspect of landlord and tenant law or personal immigration law then the landlord and tenant and personal immigration law teams at OTS Solicitors can help you. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form to arrange an appointment via our online platform, skype or telephone conferencing.