Last month, lettings legislation was updated to allow landlords and letting agents to perform right to rent checks digitally, through the introduction of the Home Office’s Identity Validation Technology (IDVT) framework. These changes bring right to rent checks for British and Irish citizens in line with the home office online service solution for EEA and non-EEA citizens, which landlords and letting agents have been asking for since the temporary remote measures were put in place due to covid. The launch of IDVT will hopefully streamline the right to rent process, reduce the need for physical documentation, and offers a remote solution for those that may struggle getting to an in-person check.
All landlords have a duty to conduct right to rent checks on any prospective adult tenant, or any other adult that will use the property as their main residence, to try and prevent anybody renting a property in England without a lawful immigration status. This has previously been done by checking physical copies of acceptable documents in-person. When covid struck, adjusted checks were temporarily adopted, allowing these ‘hard-copy’ checks to be done over a video call, which were popular within the sector. However, this wasn’t considered to be an adequate, long-lasting solution, which is why the introduction of this permanently digital solution is widely appreciated.
IDVT is the process of obtaining evidence of a prospective adult tenants’ identity and checking its validity. These checks will be carried out by certified Identity Service Providers (IDSPs), who will have to be approved by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). To get this accreditation, providers will need to meet the requirements of the UK Digital Identity Attributes Trust Framework. They will need to have appropriate systems in place to reliably identify a person, make this information accessible, and be able to hold it safely and securely. It is expected that by the middle of May, a list of these certified IDSPs will be published, and ready to use.
All IDSPs will conduct the following steps to verify if an applicant has the right to rent in England:
- Obtain evidence of an applicant’s ID, through a copy of a British or Irish passport, or an Irish passport card.
- Validate that the passport/card is genuine
- Check that the identity of the applicant has existed over time
- Check if the identity is at high risk of identity fraud
- Check the identity belongs to the person claiming it is them.
Once conducted, each of the above steps will then be given a Level of Confidence (LoC) score, with a score of ‘medium’ being the lowest acceptable to pass for right to rent purposes.
Although IDSPs will carry out these checks on behalf of the landlord, it is still ultimately the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the check has taken place, and it has been conducted properly using a certified provider. Therefore, proof of a check must be recorded, and retained for at least 1 year after the tenancy ends, to have a valid statutory excuse against any sanctions.
Whist it is predicted that IDSPs will become the typical method to carry out right to rent checks on British and Irish citizens, applicants that don’t wish their check to be carried out this way must not be discriminated against, and the ‘traditional’, in-person checks should still be made available. The current temporary adjusted measures have been extended until 30th September 2022, and will run in parallel with the new IDSPs, to allow for a transition period. Following this, any checks done digitally will have to be through a certified IDSP. There is no need to retrospectively check the status of any tenant whose tenancy commenced before 5th April 2022.
More insight will be gained on these digital checks once the first IDSPs become certified and ready to use. However, we feel this is a positive step towards a more efficient and modernised right to rent process that we look forward to getting started with! If you’re looking for somewhere to rent head on over to the ‘For Let’ tab on our website, to see what properties we have available.