ARLA Propertymark has revealed what it believes is a 'big step forward' for letting agents processing large numbers of overseas student tenants at this time of year.
The association says that in the past agents have struggled to carry out Right to Rent checks on overseas students in joint tenancies prior to the start of the academic year.
As many students secure tenancies weeks or months before they actually arrive, many agents have simply been unable to comply with the Code of Practice requirement to carry out a face-to-face immigration check within the 28 days preceding the tenancy.
ARLA Propertymark raised this issue with the Home Office and the latter has now agreed a template letter that can be used by agents.
The letter will implement an exemption in place for universities to nominate students to take up residence in a specified rental property.
The student can activate the process by requesting the letter. However, the correspondence must be on the university’s letterhead and must specify the student’s name and date of birth along with the address of the property.
While technically this process creates an exemption, ARLA says it remains best practice to carry out a face-to-face check on the student’s arrival and retain records according to the code.
“This is a big step forward for agents, particularly those who have to process large numbers of students in joint tenancies over a short period of time,” says Rachel Hartley, marketing communications manager at ARLA Propertymark and member of the Home Office Consultative Panel on Right to Rent checks.
“Right to Rent checks are one of the hidden tasks in setting up a tenancy. What is referred to as ‘glancing at a passport’ in this case involves an initial check when the tenancy is organised, followed by a second check within 28 days of the start of the tenancy and a further follow-up check carried out either before the expiry of the ID or at 12 months.”
“In Right to Rent checks the most important thing is always to record the checks that you make accurately,” she says.
“Any enforcement activity will focus on the paper trail and having an accurate record of what you have done and the decisions that you have taken is essential.”