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Landlords’ “knowledge gap” presents opportunity for letting agents

Letting agents say the latest review of how Right To Rent has been carried out demonstrates “a knowledge gap” by landlords.

This in turn gives letting agents an opportunity to step up and fill that gap, says a statement from the chief executive of Propertymark. 

“It is clear from this review that self-managing landlords have a knowledge gap and it’s not surprising. Right to Rent has been through many complex changes in the last three years with Covid-19 lockdowns, the end of freedom of movement due to the UK’s exit from the EU and the introduction of the Home Office’s real time digital systems” says Nathan Emerson.


“Professional agents, particularly those in membership with a body like Propertymark, taking their compliance responsibilities seriously dedicate time and CPD to ensuring they are fully compliant.”

His comments come following the government publishing the findings of a review into the operation of Right To Rent by private landlords and letting agents.

The Right to Rent scheme requires landlords of privately rented accommodation to conduct checks on all new tenants to establish if they have a legal right to be in the UK and therefore have the right to rent. 

There was an assessment of how it worked early on, back in 2014, but a more recent one has been undertaken between September 2019 and October 2021 - the results of this later assessment have just been published, having been delayed by the pandemic.

The Home Office, which commissioned the survey, used two methods to assess - firstly through a mystery shopping exercise whereby mystery shoppers approached private landlords and letting agents to enquire about potential rental properties; and secondly through quantitative and qualitative research with private landlords investigating awareness and engagement with the Right to Rent scheme.

The central research question was whether the Right to Rent scheme leads to unlawful race discrimination. 

A statement from the Home Office says: “The results show some clear examples of discriminatory attitudes but there was insufficient evidence to claim any systematic unlawful discrimination as a result of the scheme.”

It continues: “Most of the interactions with landlords and letting agents reported by the mystery shoppers were helpful (67 per cent, 1,326 out of 1,976) and friendly (65 per cent, 1,285 out of 1,976), and Right to Rent requirements were dealt with in a matter-of-fact way, with some landlords not mentioning the checks at all at this stage of the rental process. 

“The research did not find much evidence of pushback from landlords against the scheme, perhaps because requesting documentation has always been an element of the rental transaction. Landlords routinely ask for confirmation of employment, bank details and references from previous landlords. Seen in this light, the additional paperwork involved in Right to Rent checks may not add materially to the volume of pre-tenancy work.”

The exercise found that 14 per cent (42 out of 300) of landlords said that they would not rent to a UK national without a passport. 

In response to this the Home Office says: “The Right to Rent scheme could thus have the potential to disadvantage UK citizens without passports who are seeking to rent a home. However, putting this into context, landlords also reported not wishing to rent property to Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance recipients at a much higher level (38 per cent, 114 out of 300).”

On the other hand, several mystery shoppers were told that a driver’s licence would suffice as proof of having the right to rent despite this being insufficient as a standalone piece of evidence. 

The government says such confusion about the rules points to the importance of good quality information, delivered to as many private landlords and agents as possible. It acknowledges that although awareness of the scheme is improving there are still obvious gaps in understanding, which could be addressed through an effective communication strategy.

You can see the full results of the assessment here.


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