Coronavirus (COVID-19): landlord right to rent checks

Advice for landlords carrying out right to rent checks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This update replaces previous guidance issued on 18 June 2021.

The end date for the temporary adjusted checks has now been deferred to 5 April 2022 (inclusive). We have made the decision to defer the date following the positive feedback we received about the ability to conduct checks remotely. We initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital right to rent checks in the future. The intention is to introduce a new digital solution to include many who are unable to use the Home Office online checking service, including UK and Irish citizens. This will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.

Deferring the end date of the adjusted checks to 5 April 2022 ensures the Right to Rent Scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports landlords and letting agents, whilst we look to implement a long-term, post-pandemic solution.

Updated advice for landlords carrying out right to rent checks during the temporary COVID-19 measures

The following temporary changes were made on 30 March 2020 and remain in place until 5 April 2022 (inclusive):

  • checks can currently be carried out over video calls
  • tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • landlords should use the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents set out in Landlords Guide to Right to Rent or use the Home Office right to rent online service.

It remains an offence to knowingly rent to a person who does not have the right to rent in England.

Checking an individual’s right to rent during the temporary COVID-19 measures

Up to and including 5 April 2022, if you are carrying out a temporary adjusted check, you must:

  • ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  • arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
  • record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
  • if the tenant has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to rent service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details

End of temporary adjustments

The temporary adjustments to right to rent checks due to COVID-19 will end on 5 April 2022 (inclusive). New guidance will be issued prior to 6 April 2022.

Online right to rent service

The Home Office right to rent online service gives you a defence against a civil penalty. You don’t need to see or check the individual’s documents, as right to rent information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.

Landlords cannot insist individuals use this service or discriminate against those who choose to use their documents to prove their right to rent.

Retrospective checks

You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had an adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords during this difficult time.

You will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

If a tenant does not have the right documents

You must contact the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if the tenant cannot provide the right documents. Once you have submitted your request to the Landlord Checking Service you will get an answer within 2 working days. You must keep this response to protect against a civil penalty.

Published 30 March 2020
Last updated 26 August 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated to reflect new end date of 5 April 2022.

  2. Updated as the end date for the temporary adjusted checking processes is now 31 August 2021.

  3. Updated as the end date for the temporary adjusted checking processes is now 21 June.

  4. Updated as the temporary adjustments introduced because of coronavirus end on 16 May 2021.

  5. First published.