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The future of Right to Rent checks

Thursday 20 December 2018

Amid media speculation of a disagreement on immigration targets between the PM and Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP, Government released the delayed white paper on Immigration.

Plans are for a single, skills-based immigration system applying equally to non-Europeans and EU citizens to be introduced following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The single skills-based immigration system will prioritise skilled workers and temporary short-term workers groups identified as essential to certain parts of the UK economy.

The plan proposes that current arrangements for UK residency and by implication, Right to Rent checks will remain in place in their current form until that time.

In line with messaging to the sector from the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP, Government intend to deliver a fully digital system for landlords and agents carrying out Right to Rent checks, focused on making a complex system as easy as possible for prospective tenants to navigate. Under the proposals, EU citizens’ immigration status will be available digitally, replacing the use of cards, making updates to current status immediately available and enabling applicants to share their status with landlords and letting agents.

While Right to Rent checks on non-EU citizens are likely to remain firmly in place, the proposals raise the prospect that ensuring that the ID of EU nationals is genuine passes back to Immigration Services, partially removing the burden felt by letting agents when faced with unfamiliar identity documents or evidence that they have allowed a tenancy on the basis of a high-quality forgery.

Areas of inevitable uncertainty surrounding ongoing Brexit negotiations are apparent:

“The future system will apply in the same way to all nationalities – EU and non-EU citizens alike – except where there are objective grounds to differentiate. This could, for example, be in the context of a trade agreement, or a risk-based approach.”

The Home Office have built integration between Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Department for Work and Pensions to support the proposed EU Settlement Scheme

The focus is on making this reliable from the point of application and an easy user experience which reduces reliance on documentary evidence of the applicant’s residence footprint.

David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark said:

“It’s absolutely vital that any immigration proposals address the need for a simple and reliable system which will allow landlords and letting agents to treat applicants equally and fairly. Housing is fundamental to security and stability, and supply remains a core issue to families across the UK.

“Many tenants and landlords in the UK are very concerned whether choices they are making now on new tenancies and those coming up for renewal, will still conform in months and years to come. While we welcome the prospect of a digital status system for EU nationals, the data must be timely and 100% reliable.”

While the current system applies only to England, having not been implemented in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the intention is for Westminster to work with the Devolved Administrations to ensure consistency across the UK.