From 6th April 2022, the government has published updated guidance advising landlords, agents, and homeowners on the process to conduct right to rent checks when letting privately rented accommodation. Further provisions have also been introduced to aid in the accommodation of Ukrainian nationals fleeing the current conflict.
What is the right to rent?
From 1st February 2016, the right to rent was imposed on all prospective tenancies in England to avoid individuals residing in the UK illegally. It puts an obligation on all landlords in England to check that all tenants who hold tenancies in their properties have the required legal status to reside in the UK. The general practice is that before a prospective tenant can enter into a lease, the landlord or a letting agent is required to check an individual’s passport and carry out immigration checks.
Right to rent checks only apply to tenancies that commence after 1 February 2016.
What are the right to rent checks?
Updated list of acceptable documents
Key government updates
The list of acceptable documents has been amended.
- A Certificate of Application (either digital or non-digital) indicating an individual has applied for leave to enter/remain under the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) on or after 1 July 2021, together with a Positive Right to Rent Notice (PRRN) from the Landlord Checking Service (LCS)
- An application for leave to enter or remain under Appendix EU to the Isle of Man Immigration Rules and the removal of reference to applications submitted on or before 30 June 2021
- Documents issued by the Home Office to a family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen, which indicated that the holder had permission to stay in the United Kingdom
- Biometric Immigration Documents issued by the Home Office
- Frontier worker permits issued under Regulation 8 of the Citizens’ Rights (Frontier Workers) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020
Those who hold a:
- Biometric Residence Card;
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRC/BRPs); or
- Frontier Worker Permit (FWPs)
Retrospective checks will not be required on biometric card holders who, before 6 April 2022, used their physical card to demonstrate their right to rent. Landlords will maintain a statutory excuse against any civil penalty if the initial checks were undertaken in accordance with the relevant guidance that applied when the check was made.
Extension to temporary Covid right to rent Checks
During the Covid Pandemic, right to rent checks were temporally adjusted from 30 March 2020 to allow landlords to carry out checks online, via video call and through scanned copies of documents. These temporary measures have been further extended until 30 September 2022.
What changes have been made to right to rent following the events in Ukraine?
Annex I of the report sets out government plans to introduce visa schemes to support Ukrainian nationals and their families coming to the UK. Under these plans, those granted a visa will be able to work, rent a home and access public services such as education, while residing in the UK. These schemes are designed to make it easier for Ukrainian nationals and their immediate families to enter and reside in the UK.
Ukraine Family Scheme
The Scheme allows immediate and extended family members of British Nationals and those settled in the UK to travel and reside in the UK. Under this Scheme, applicants must:
- apply to join or accompany their UK-based family member;
- be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the Scheme; and
- must have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022.
This scheme allows individuals to house Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members rent free.
Those in the UK that can offer housing must have at least 6 months leave to remain and with suitable accommodation can apply to the scheme. Anyone who has a successful application through the scheme will be permitted to reside in the UK for 6 months. To extend this period to three years, individuals will need to submit their biometrics before the 6-month period ends in order to obtain a Biometric Residence Card.
Right to Rent checks
Individuals with a valid passport
At present, there is no confirmation that right to rent checks will need to be carried out. A Ukrainian national with a valid Ukrainian passport can apply to either Scheme without needing to attend an overseas VISA Application Centre (“VAC”) to submit biometrics.
Those with permission to reside in the UK have a time-limited right to rent over a 12-month period. These endorsements are now included as acceptable documents for a manual check.
When an individual’s permission to stay is coming to an end, landlords will need to carry out a follow-up check of those who have time-limited right to rent in England. All Ukrainian nationals under the Schemes should have a BRP granting them up to 3 years leave. Those with a BRP will need to prove the right to rent via the Home Office online checking service.
Individuals without a valid passport
If an individual does not have a valid Ukrainian passport, they will be required to provide biometric information at a VAC. They will then be provided and will then be provided with an entry clearance vignette attached to a ‘Form for Affixing the Visa’ (“FAV”).
Once a BRP has been collected, this can be used to prove a right to rent through the Home Office online checking service. Individuals can also use a FAV as proof of the right to rent.