On 30 March 2020, the Home Office issued guidance to adjust the standard right to rent check requirements.

Right to rent checks are still required and it remains an offence to knowingly lease premises to a person who is not lawfully in the UK. The acceptable process for undertaking a check has been adjusted to enable it to be carried out safely and in accordance with the public health guidance in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The new guidance confirms as follows:

• checks do not need to be in person and can be carried out over video calls

• tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals

• landlords should use the Landlord’s Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the required documents.

The recommended process for undertaking a right to rent check during the coronavirus restrictions is as follows:

• Ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app.

• Arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents.

• Record the date the check was made and mark it as “an adjusted check has been undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”

It is important to keep a record of all checks carried out in this way. When the restrictions are lifted, a further check will be required. This will need to be a standard check, carried out in accordance with the process set out in the code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation and right to rent document checks: a user guide.

This follow up check must be carried within 8 weeks of the restrictions being lifted. The record of the follow up check should be marked “the individual’s tenancy agreement commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to rent check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.” The landlord should retain the record of both checks.

A landlord will only be able to maintain a statutory excuse against a penalty if both checks have been carried out. If the follow up check reveals that the tenant does not have a right to rent, the landlord must take steps to end the tenancy.

If you have any queries about this matter, or about any immigration matter, these can be directed to Freeths Immigration through our Coronavirus Helpline 0845404 4111 or by e-mail