Private landlords are legally required to complete Right to Rent checks to establish the immigration status of any lodgers, tenants, together with other adults who are to be living in the property. The right to rent check must be carried out before the tenancy starts. British Citizens have enjoyed an unlimited right to rent as did European Union Nationals and all that was required to confirm that right was a passport or national ID card. For EU Nationals that all changed on 1st July 2021.
Why The Change in Right to Rent?
The UK left the European Union (EU) and the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 ended the free movement of people in the UK on 31 December 2020. Eligible EU citizens together with members of their family resident in the UK on 31 December 2020 were given a 6-month grace period to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If approved, the EU citizen would be granted the right to permanent residence in the UK. This period ended on 30 June 2021.
From 1 July 2021, EU nationals and members of their family members, not part of the EUSS, must evidence their UK immigration status in the same way as other non-EU foreign nationals. They can no longer rely upon their EU passport or their national identity card to prove their right to rent. So, from 1st July 2021 landlords could no longer check the nationality of prospective tenants to determine their right to rent and instead became legally responsible for checking their immigration status.
What Does This Mean For Landlords?
EU Nationals with Settled Status via the EU Settlement Scheme
Landlords can conduct checks on those with an unlimited right to rent at any time before the start of a tenancy agreement. The evidence of the check together with the date of when the check was carried out, must be retained for the duration of the tenancy agreement and for at least one year thereafter. No further checks are required.
The previous documentary checks of passport or national ID cards are no longer valid. EU Nationals with Settled Status are given digital evidence in the form of a code when approved for permanent residency. In December 2020, the Government introduced a digital check system using the Home Office Online Right to Rent service. A prospective tenant shares their code and date of birth with the landlord who can then access the Right to Rent service online and check their status of unlimited time to remain.
EU Nationals without Settled Status
It has always been far easier for landlords to remain compliant with right to rent when letting to a tenant who originated from within the EU than to a foreign national from elsewhere so checking the status of EU Nationals without settled status has become much more complicated. Visitors from the EU will be automatically granted leave to stay in the UK for a maximum of 6 months. Their passport plus evidence of their entry into the UK (such as airline ticket or boarding pass) will be sufficient to demonstrate their right to rent. Those coming to live in the UK for more than six months will have been issued with a visa in their passport and will collect their biometric residence permit on arrival or will have been issued an eVisa. This will provide them with evidence of their status in the UK.
How to Conduct a Right to Rent Check post 30th June 2021 – Non-Settled Status
There are three basic steps to conducting a right to rent check on these EU citizens:
Establish that the individual is a national of the EU. The individual’s passport must be checked to ensure they are a national of the EU together with evidence of their arrival in the UK in the last six months. Establish whether they have a visa in their passport or an eVisa to determine the length of time they are allowed to stay.
When checking the documents, the prospective tenant must be present either in person or via a live video link. The original documents must, however, be in the possession of the landlord.
A clear copy of each document must be taken and in a format that cannot be altered later. The copies can be retained (securely), electronically or in hard copy. A record of the date upon which the check-in question was made must be kept and all copies are to be kept securely for at least twelve months after the conclusion of the tenancy agreement. When a right to rent check has been carried out correctly, the landlord will be given a 12-month statutory excuse against a civil penalty if it transpires later that the tenant does not have a right to rent. A follow-up check before the end of the 12-month period is mandatory if the person is still occupying the accommodation.
Managing The Workload
Landlords have increasingly had a myriad of legislative and regulatory issues to manage no matter how big or small their portfolio. The UK’s exit from the EU has created another significant leap in the workload of already pressured landlords. The good news is that technology is on hand to help ease the pain of this increased burden. Property management software such as that provided by industry specialists, InventoryBase boasts a wealth of features to enable an end-to-end property management solution. The ability to capture, store and manage huge amounts of data ensures that landlords can manage their business most effectively and most importantly, comply with all their regulatory obligations.