Letting agents are not required to conduct retrospective Right to Rent verification on tenants who had a Covid-adjusted check since March 30 last year.
During the pandemic, agents were encouraged to check tenants’ ID documents via video and online, instead of in person.
Previous Home Office guidance suggested they would have to go back and check them in person after the pandemic, within eight weeks of the temporary procedures lapsing on May 17 this year.
However, a Home Office statement says this is now not required and this “reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords during this difficult time.”
A statement from letting agents’ group ARLA Propertymark suggests it may have caused the U-turn.
It had lobbied the government, saying tenants wouldn’t understand the need for repeating the process, leaving agents and landlords vulnerable to civil penalties if and when they needed to provide a statutory excuse. For agents there would have been the added issue of multiple visits to their offices while social distancing restrictions were still in place; for landlords, there was the challenge of locating and seeing in person all the appropriate individuals.
The revised guidance means they can maintain a defence against a civil penalty if a Covid-adjusted check was conducted, “in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance” according to a Home Office statement.
ARLA Propertymark policy and campaigns manager Timothy Douglas says: “We are very pleased that the Home Office has listened to our concerns about the practical barriers that would have made it impossible for letting agents in England to repeat the volume of adjusted checks carried out over the last year due to the pandemic.”