Your guide to the new digital right to rent checks for British and Irish citizens
From 6 April, landlords and agents will have the chance to use new digital service providers to conduct the English right to rent checks for British and Irish tenants.
From 6 April 2022, lettings legislation will change to allow landlords and their agents can use certified Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) to digitally check the identity and eligibility of British and Irish citizens to rent a property in England. These providers will use digital identity document validation technology (IDVT) to complete the checks.
The government has also deferred the end of the Covid-adjusted right to rent checks until 30 September 2022, to give agents and landlords more time to develop "commercial relationships" with these new providers and onboard them responsibly.
What is an IDSP?
IDSPs are "approved companies" that will be responsible for validating the identity of an applicants on behalf of landlords.
The UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) will certify these providers, and the full list of certified providers will be published on the government's site.
The providers will need to meet the requirements of the UK Digital Identity Attributes Trust Framework and have appropriate systems in place to keep your applicant's information securely.
Landlords and agents should note that tenants that are eligible for a check through an IDSP still have the right to ask for a manual check of their right to rent instead.
What will IDSPs check?
The IDSPs will run through the following steps to check your applicant's identity:
- Obtaining ID evidence
- Checking the evidence is genuine or valid
- Checking the claimed identity has existed over time
- Checking if the claimed identity is at high risk of identity fraud
- Checking that the identity belongs to the right person
Each step will be scored to give a total "level of confidence" (LoC) score - at least a medium score is required for the ID check to pass for right to rent purposes.
The providers will then use the following documents to check if your applicant has the right to live in England:
- British passports
- Irish passports
- Irish passport cards
If your applicant can't provide these documents, this means that you may have to conduct the check manually, or use one of the Home Office's other digital services.
What will landlords and agents need to do?
You will need to provide the IDSP with certain information to run the right to rent check. This includes:
- The full name of your applicant
- Their date of birth
- An image of the biometric page in their ID
- A photo of them
In some instances, you may still be required to check these documents manually - for example, if your applicant has an expired passport.
You will also still need to check that the ID photo you provide to the IDSP is a match for your applicant, either face to face or through a video call.
Agents and landlords who employ staff will be responsible for providing training where relevant on how to use the IDSPs.
You'll also still be responsible for undertaking due diligence checks - the ID verification process simply form part of the risk assessment.
Although the IDSPs will essentially act on your behalf to carry out the right to rent check on an individual, landlords and agents are still responsible for the check taking place and will need to ensure that they are only using a certified provider.
You'll need to retain proof of the checks that the certified provider made for at least one year after the tenancy ends, to "have a statutory excuse" against fines.
This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. Landlords and agents can find the full information at gov.uk.