06 Oct 2020

The Home Office is planning to introduce a new online service designed to make it easier for letting agents and landlords to check that potential tenants have the right to rent property in the UK, as part of the Right to Rent requirements.

The somewhat controversial Right to Rent scheme, which requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of their tenants, often leads landlords to discriminate against people who seem ‘foreign’, a court ruled last year.

Many agents and landlords have long argued that the policy, introduced in 2015 following a six month trial in the Midlands, discriminates against foreign nationals, especially those who cannot easily prove their right to remain in the UK.

Research shows that concerns about breaking the rules means that some landlords become reluctant to rent to someone without a British passport for fear of prosecution for getting things wrong.

The Home Office last year announced that it planned to reassess its Right to Rent scheme after the High Court ruled that the legislation was discriminatory and breached human rights laws following a legal challenge by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the Residential Landlords Association. However, the government initiative was then ruled lawful in the Court of Appeal in April of this year.

In a statement to the House of Commons this week, Parliamentary Secretary Chris Philp claimed that the new online system, scheduled to be introduced in November, will improve the existing process, and allow agents and landlords to undertake a check in real time via video links if necessary.

The service, designed to safeguard the prospective renter by allowing them to initially view their Home Office profile before potentially sharing it with others via a unique access code, means that landlords will only be able to view an individual’s Right to Rent information, and no other unrelated personal information

Philip said: “We have worked closely with landlords and letting agents in designing the service, but we need to change Right to Rent legislation to enable them to rely on the new online service to discharge their legal responsibilities under the scheme.”

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