Landlords have been saved an epic admin task as they now won’t need to carry out retrospective Right to Rent checks on tenants who had a Covid-adjusted check between 30th March 2020 and 16th May 2021.
During the pandemic, landlords and letting agents have been able to check tenants’ ID documents using video calls.
Previous guidance had warned them they would need to go back and check again within eight weeks of the temporary measures ending on 17th May.
But the Home Office has now announced that this won’t be necessary when in-person Right to Rent checks return, explaining: “This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords during this difficult time.”
ARLA Propertymark had lobbied the government, saying tenants wouldn’t understand the need for repeating checks, leaving agents and landlords vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they needed to provide a statutory excuse.
For agents, repeating checks would have meant dealing with multiple visitors to their office, while some tenants wouldn’t have gone to the branch, leading to widespread non-compliance.
The revised guidance means they can maintain a defence against a civil penalty if a Covid-adjusted check was conducted, “in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance”, says the Home Office.
Timothy Douglas, ARLA Propertymark policy and campaigns manager (pictured), says: “We are very pleased that the Home Office has listened to our concerns about the practical barriers that would have made it impossible for letting agents in England to repeat the volume of adjusted checks carried out over the last year due to the pandemic.”
It now wants the sector to focus on getting to grips with the new system for all overseas nationals including those granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme.