Home Office shares plans for digital right to rent checks for all tenants

21 October 2020

Alongside the previously announced online right to rent checks of eligible tenants via the Home Office’s new online process and the checks for B5JSSK nationals arriving via e-passport gates, the government has shared plans for online checks of all tenants from April 2022.

The Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks sets out the details of the Home Office’s online right to rent check service, launched in November 2020, in addition to confirming how visitors from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States with biometric passports (also known as “B5JSSK nationals”) can prove their right to rent. The government has since also announced the "View and Prove" system for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, and outlined its plans for an online checking process for all other tenants.

New "Identification Document Validation Technology" process

The government previously announced its intention to create a digital process for the right to rent checks for all tenants. The Home Office has now concluded a review of how this can be achieved and published the results, outlining its proposals for the use of "certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers" to carry out digital identity checks, from 6 April 2022.

This service will allow landlords and letting agents to digitally check the right to rent of any tenant that's not eligible to use the Home Office online services outlined below - including British and Irish citizens - and aims to "enhance the security and integrity of the checks". The providers will need to become independently certified, and the UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework will open in January 2022 for providers to start the certification process.

In the interim, landlords and agents must continue to conduct the checks in line with the guidance for temporary Covid-19 measures until April 2022, barring any further delay to this deadline.

Home Office online checking service

Eligible tenants can prove their right to rent via the Home Office’s online checking service. Currently, the Home Office online checking service supports checks for those who hold a biometric residence permit, a biometric residence card, or a status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Prospective tenants must first view their own right to rent record using the "prove your right to rent to a landlord or agent" or the new "View and Prove" service. They can then choose to share this information with the landlord, by providing them with a "share code", which, when entered along with the individual’s date of birth, enables the landlord to access the information. The prospective tenant or tenant may provide this to the landlord directly, or they may choose to send this via the service. 

Although landlords may encourage use of the online service, they are not permitted to mandate online checks before 30 June 2021. If a prospective tenant does not wish to demonstrate their right to rent using the Home Office online checking service, even if their immigration status or documentation is compatible with the service, the landlord will need to conduct the manual check until this date. The online process will become mandatory after this date.

Watch on demand: Right to rent changes

Right to rent checks for B5JSSK nationals

Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States with biometric passports (also known as “B5JSSK nationals”) are able to use ePassport gates at UK airports, sea ports and Brussels and Paris Eurostar terminals, to enter the United Kingdom. 

Those entering the UK as a visitor are granted automatic leave to enter for a maximum period of up to six months and will not have a document to evidence their right to rent in the UK. From 2 November 2020, B5JSSK nationals will be permitted to use a combination of their passport, plus evidence of entry to the UK to demonstrate a right to rent. 

Acceptable evidence of entry may include (but is not restricted to) either one, or a combination, of the following:

  • An original or copy of a boarding pass or electronic boarding pass for air, rail or sea travel to the UK, establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months
  • An original or copy airline, rail or boat ticket or e-ticket establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months
  • Any type of booking confirmation (original or copy) for air, rail or sea travel to the UK establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months
  • Any other documentary evidence which establishes the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.

Once the initial right to rent checks have been satisfied, the landlord has established a “time-limited statutory excuse”. This time-limited statutory excuse lasts either for 12 months from the date of the right to rent check or until expiry of the person’s permission to be in the UK, or until expiry of the validity of their document which evidences their right to be in the UK, whichever is later. Follow-up checks should be undertaken to ensure the tenant has proof of their continued right to rent before this time-limited statutory excuse expires. 

This article is based on the government’s "Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks" and "Your immigration status: an introduction for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens". It is intended as a guide only and should not be construed as legal advice. For more information, see gov.uk.

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