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Right to Rent Checks May Become 100% Digital

Rent Guarantor Feb 19, 2020

The Government's Right-to-Rent checking system could become completely digital and much easier for Landlords and Letting Agents to use. While the controversial process isn't as yet definitely here to stay - the High Court ruled it was illegal in 2019, but the Home Office is appealing that decision - the Government is said to be working on digitising the system by which landlords and agents check a tenant applicant's right to rent in the UK.

Right to Rent checks were introduced in the UK in 2016 as a way to ensure landlords were renting to people who had the right to live, rent and work in the UK. It is now a mandatory part of a tenancy agreement and where your tenant does have the right to rent, they will be able to prove that right easily by producing official documentation such as a passport, national identity card or residence card.

Right to Rent Checks turning digital

Since 2018 employers have been able to use a digital system to check their potential employees’ right to work. Following a written question from Labour MP, Alex Norris to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Kevin Foster, about the acceptance of digital forms of identification in Right to Rent Check, the plans for a digital right to rent checking system have come to light.

“When an individual undergoes a right to work or right to rent check they are not just evidencing their identity, they must also demonstrate their entitlement to work or rent,” Mr. Foster said in his response to Mr. Norris.

“The Home Office is transforming the way migrants demonstrate their immigration status and right to work and rent in the UK. The digital online status checking service for employers conducting right to work checks was launched on 6 April 2018. In January 2019, we amended secondary legislation and issued new guidance to employers which sets out how they can use the online service in complying with their responsibilities under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 on the prevention of illegal working. The Home Office is planning to launch an online digital right to rent status checking service to support landlords in conducting right to rent checks,” he wrote in his answer.

“The Government is also working to develop proposals for a digital identity system that would enable people to prove their identity easily and securely, without the need to provide physical documents, and to meet the demands of the digital age,” he added.

No time frame for digitisation

It’s important to remember that while the Government appears to be going ahead with its plans for Right to Rent checks, there’s always the possibility that the legal status of the Act is still in question. However, until that is fully resolved, the requirement for Right to Rent checks with consequences where they’re not properly performed, will remain in place.

With that in mind, it’s positive to hear that the Government is working on a digital system that will make it easier for landlords and letting agents to check a tenant’s Right to Rent status. However, as yet, there is no time scale at all as to when this will be completed and ready to use.

For now then, it’s business as usual, with some hope that a quicker, easier and reliable option is on the way.

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