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Temporary Relaxation of Rules During Covid-19 Pandemic

July 2020

Landlords or their agents are required to carry out “right to rent” checks on prospective new tenants. A person has the right to rent if they are a British citizen, an EEA or Swiss national or if the person has leave to remain in the UK. The checks are similar to the “right to work” checks that employers are required to undertake.

In normal times, landlords (or agents) must see the tenant’s original documents, for example, a passport, driving licence or birth certificate, and take a copy for their records. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has temporarily adjusted the rules to make it easier for landlords and agents to carry out checks.

Landlords and agents may now conduct right to rent checks in the following way:

· The tenant submits a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app.

· The landlord or agent arranges a video call with the tenant. The tenant holds up the original documents to the camera and the landlord or agent checks them against the digital copy of the documents.

· The landlord or agent records the date they made the check and marks the copy document “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

· Once the temporary measures have ended (on a date to be notified by the government) the landlord or agent must then within 8 weeks carry out a retrospective check on the tenant, this time with original documents. The retrospective check should be marked “the individual’s tenancy agreement commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to rent check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

Further information about these temporary measures can be found here. The Right to Rent Checklists for Landlords and Agents have been reviewed and updated to take account of the temporary changes to the checking procedure.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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