Right to rent: New date for end of "Covid-19 adjusted" checks from 21 June 2021

21 April 2021

The government has extended the virtual right to rent checks in England by an extra month to 20 June 2021. After this point, there is new guidance for agents and landlords on how the checks should be carried out when the temporary measures introduced in March 2020 expire. The government also previously dropped its requirement for retrospective checks for this period.

Since 30 March 2020, temporary measures for the right to rent checks in England, which traditionally take place in person, have been in place. Now, the government has published guidance on how the checks should be conducted from 21 June 2021 - a month later than the originally announced date of 17 May - with retrospective checks no longer required for any "COVID-19 adjusted" checks made during this period.

The temporary measures, announced at the start of the pandemic, mean that checks can be made over video call, scans or photos of documents can be accepted instead of original copies, and landlords can use the new online process for the right to rent checks, introduced on 2 November 2020.

From 21 June 2021, the above rules revert to landlords or agents checking the tenants' original documents, or using the online process, which continues to be voluntary for tenants.

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The government has noted that, while the pandemic is still ongoing, tenants may "struggle to show evidence of their right to rent in England" and has reminded landlords to not discriminate against the tenant if they are unable to show their documents as a result.

The key difference from when the temporary changes were announced is that agents and landlords are now no longer required to conduct in-person checks retrospectively for the period between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021. The government highlights instead that you'll "maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance."

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This new guidance is in line with ARLA Propertymark's insights shared with the government 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."

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager, also emphasises the next steps to take in the right to rent process, following the end of the Brexit transition period. "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," he says. "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."

This article is intended as a guide only. For full details, visit gov.uk.

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