Right to Rent for landlords and letting agents has been tweaked to make checks easier to carry out in the coronavirus crisis.

The government wants landlords and tenants to rely on technology rather than face-to-face checks.

What’s not changed is the need to carry out a Right to Rent check and knowingly letting a home to someone who is unlawfully in the UK remains an offence.

But checks can be carried out by video call.

Tenants can send scans or photos of documents, while the Landlord Checking Service remains open if a current tenant cannot provide the necessary documents for a Right to Rent check.

“Because of COVID-19 some individuals will be unable to evidence their right to rent. During this period, you must take extra care to ensure that no-one is discriminated against because they are struggling to evidence their right to rent,” said a Home Office spokesman.

The Home Office says follow these steps to carry out a Right to Rent check:

  • Ask the tenant to send a scan or photo of their original documents on an email or through a mobile app.
  • Arrange a video call with the tenant and ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera for checking against the digital copy of the documents.
  • Record the date of the check and mark it as “An adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

If the tenant cannot produce Right to Rent proof, contact the Landlord Checking Service. Only file a report once and expect a response in around two working days.

Keep the response to avoid a fine, said the spokesman.

When the special COVID-19 measures end, landlords should carry out retrospective Right to Rent checks for tenants starting their tenancy or requiring a follow-up check since March 30, 2020.

You should carry out retrospective checks on tenants who:

  • started their tenancy during this period
  • required a follow-up check during this period

You should mark the retrospective check: “the individual’s tenancy agreement commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to rent check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

The retrospective check must be carried out within 8 weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending. Both checks should be kept for your records.

Read the full guidance online

Comment: this all seems a bit bizarre given the current state of the renting market. It would be easy enough to still see live documents as normal at the time of handing over the keys and maintain the 2 meter distance rule. The numbers of people likely to be meeting over this period is greatly reduced compared to normal.

It’s especially bizarre given there’s no change to gas safety requirements which could easily be put on hold for 3 months like MOT’s. When we asked our engineer if willing to do upcoming checks that are due end of April and in May, he replied:

… Only thing that worries me is going in and out of numerous houses per day , not just me getting it and fetching it home but spreading it from house to house. Seems mental really. Gas Safe have issued a statement but kept very quiet , and they’ve cancelled all their own inspections 😂 …

A very fair point!