Vouch: The strengths and limitations of the new right to rent checking process

14 July 2021

The new right to rent check process for EU, EEA, and Swiss tenants has been in place for agents and landlords since 1 July, helping them to take their applicants' immigration statuses into consideration through an online check - which comes with positives and negatives.

In England, there's a new right to rent checking process for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, which has been mandatory since 1 July 2021. After months of waiting to hear what the new process would be, it's good to now have a definitive answer. It makes the checks less subjective for agents and will hopefully give agents more confidence with the simple yes or no response.

The right to rent online flow

At Vouch, we've changed our referencing flow to help our agents facilitate the new checks. We ask what nationality the tenant is and then ask how long the tenant has been in the UK. The answers they give drive a different set of documents and information. Our developers built the journey tenants and agents take on our platform based on their own research to create a visual representation of what the changes mean - you can find the results in this flowchart.

Although the process was announced a month in advance of the deadline - plenty of time for agents and landlords to prepare - there was originally a lack of communication which may have led to some uncertainty for landlords. Agents can use that to their advantage and demonstrate the value they bring by sharing what they know about the process with their landlords and tenants.

Free tenant checklist: Preparing for referencing

Limitations of the right to rent checks

The change represents another step towards a fully digital future for the lettings industry and for referencing. The share code and online process simplifies things and Vouch helps agents facilitate the checks by clearly outlining which documents are needed and what they need to check, with all the relevant links to obtain the share code and for the agent to follow to complete the check.

However, a lot of agents think the right to rent checks can be fully outsourced. They can't. Although Vouch helps to facilitate the process to make it as smooth as possible, agents and landlords still need to conduct the check themselves, whether through this online process or in person. There are no APIs to allow software such as Vouch's or Goodlord's to automatically connect with the government's online process. If an API was in place, it would be even easier. We could get the code and pull it straight back for our customers.

The future of the right to rent

Based on government timescales, the API functionality is unlikely to be implemented anytime soon, but this new process is still a move in the right direction. The ideal situation would be certification or a right to rent passport that clearly states "I have the right to rent in England".

Even if you're British, it should become part of the rental process, so tenants can go to the agent and simply say that "I do have the right to run it in the UK and you don't need to do anything because there's my yes or no".

Goodlord and Vouch are part of the Goodlord Group. Goodlord also offers a referencing service within its pre-tenancy lettings software for agents. Learn more.

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