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Right to rent changes - What you need to know

Published: 09/07/2021

From the 1st July 2021, there is a new process for the checking the right to rent on all new tenancies.

Since 2014, agents and landlords have been required to check appropriate documents in order to ascertain whether an applicant as the appropriate right to rent in the UK. Up until recently, sight of a passport or a national identity card from an EU citizen would satisfy that the individual was able to rent in the UK.

However, due to the UK's departure from the European Union, the government has made a recent amendment to the law and has now introduced the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020, which ended the free movement law in the UK on the 31 December 2021.
 
On the 1st January 2021, a grace period of six months was introduced, which during the time some relevant aspects of free movement law were saved to allow those eligible EU, EES & Swiss citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. As of the 30th of June 2021, this period has now ended. More information on the EU Settlement Scheme can be found here.



So, the process for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens right to rent has now changed.

This now means that EU, EEA and Swiss nationals can no longer enter and leave the UK in the same way as they have done before. However, those who were already here and living in the UK will now have to obtain settled status. Failing to do so will result in the loss of the right to live in the UK and to access any services.

Therefore, from the 1st July 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens require an immigration status, in a similar way that other foreign nationals and agents can no longer rely on an EEA passport or national identity card to prove their right to rent. Those EU, EEA and Swiss citizens granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme, now must prove their rights in the UK digitally, by using the view and prove service on the government website. This will generate a share code, which is an alternative to having physical document. It’s important to note that if an application was made to the EU Settlement Scheme on or before the 30th June 2021 and status has not yet been granted, those individuals can live in the UK and continue to maintain any rights until the final outcome of the application has been made. Further details on obtaining and accessing the view and prove service can be found here.



For those who have been granted Settled Status, is physical documentation required as proof?

For those EEA citizens who have applied for and been granted settled status or have a biometric permit, it is now the landlords or agents responsibility to gain their ‘settled status code which is then inputted into gov.uk to confirm their immigration status. Physical documents are no longer required, this is now all carried out online and can even be done through a video call. It’s also extremely important to only use the gov.uk website here, as alternative websites are not permissible.

If an individual cannot produce proof of their right to rent or fail the right to rent checks, then it becomes a civil penalty to allow them to rent a property and may be subject to imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. It must be noted that there is no responsibility to retrospectively conduct these new rights to rent checks on pre-existing tenants.



So what’s the process when the ‘Covid-adjusted’ checks come to a finish?

There is no one answer for this question. The three main points to be aware of are:
  • If a check is needed for someone who is a UK national or Irish national then the traditional checking system of looking at that persons passport is still done.
  • If someone has already achieved settled status in the UK, then the new digital system must be used, as this is now the only way for someone to prove their settled status in the UK after July 1st 2021.
  • Lastly, if someone is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and has just arrived in the UK, check their passport and boarding card. If they have been in the UK for a while however, this will again be a visa or settled status Scheme.




There will still have to be some in-person checks however, as some EU nations will have physical proof of their status. Because of this, these individuals can still be checked the traditional way, but the digital system applies at the moment to those with settled status or biometric permits. This essentially means, that EU nationals using settled status, will be checked online. If someone has a biometric document, then there is the choice of either showing documents, or using the online service.

Some citizens can simply use their passport and boarding pass to prove their right to rent, as they will have the same facilities as B5JSSK nationals. This means those individuals can show a passport and boarding pass now, and then prove this with a share code thereafter. Technically, they will have six months to gather this.

If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to email me on lettings@sowerbys.com

Chloe Walker
Head of Property Management MARLA