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UK Government drops requirement to repeat ID checks

Tuesday 20 April 2021

The Home Office has announced that it will no longer require letting agents in England to carry out retrospective Right to Rent checks on tenants who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021.
Propertymark wrote to the Immigration Ministerlast year, liaised with Home Office Officials and provided information to MPs highlighting concerns with the practicality of the Right to Rent guidance, as evidence showed that tenants would not understand the need for repeating checks, leaving agents vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they need to provide a statutory excuse.

The UK Government has published guidance on its website for the return of in-person Right to Rent checks from 17 May 2021, saying repeats of adjusted checks will no longer be required.

Between 20 March 2020 and 16 May 2021, agents have been permitted to check ID documents using video calls due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the guidance stated that agents and responsible landlords would need to go back and conduct retrospective checks within eight weeks of the Home Office announcing that the temporary measures were ending.

Concerns over guidance practicality

Propertymark wrote to the Home Office last year and provided briefings to the Minister and MPs highlighting concerns with the practicality of the Right to Rent guidance, as evidence showed that tenants would not understand the need for repeating checks, leaving agents vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they need to provide a statutory excuse.

When the adjusted checks were introduced, most expected them to last only a few weeks. However, as the public health crisis has stretched on, they have remained in place.

Defence against a civil penalty

The revised guidance means that letting agents will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if a COVID-adjusted check was conducted “in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance”.

Quote mark

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.

Looking forward, it's really important as we approach the end of the Brexit transition arrangements that letting agents can focus on getting to grips with the new system for all overseas nationals. This includes the new online Right to Rent service for those with a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or those granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system. We are grateful to the Home Office for listening to our members and taking on board industry input from the sector.

Timothy Douglas

Timothy Douglas
Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager

PROPERTYMARK RESOURCES

Propertymark has published information about Right to Rent checks. The information has been regularly updated to reflect the changing COVID-19 restrictions.

We have also published FAQs on how the guidance applies to different situations. The information has been taken from direct conversations with the Home Office.