Sharp rise in Right to Rent checks carried out by letting agents


There has been a surge in Right to Rent checks carried out by letting agents, new research shows.

According to Credas Technologies, there has been a 577% jump year-on-year in the number Right to Rent checks carried out by agents due to increased government pressure to drive compliance.

Under the Right to Rent Scheme, civil penalty fines for non-compliance have increased significantly in February 2024, with penalties of up to £20,000 for landlords and lettings agents who fail to comply with the rules. All landlords and letting agents in England have a responsibility to prevent those without lawful immigration status from accessing the private rented sector.

The civil penalty for landlords and letting agents has been raised from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier, to up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier for a first breach. Repeat breaches are now £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, up from £500 and £3,000 respectively. Recent research reveals a rise in fines issued to agents this year, with Q1 recording £165,680, which is greater than the whole of 2023 (£151,480.)

The Right to Rent Scheme requires letting agents and landlords to verify that their tenants have the legal right to rent in England. This process involves conducting Right to Rent checks before entering into a tenancy agreement. The updated guidance on checks made after 14 February 2024 requires the following checks: a manual Right to Rent check in person; Right to Rent check using identity document validation technology (IDV); and the Home Office Right to Rent check.

Tim Barnett, CEO Credas Technologies, said: “In October 2022, the Home Office guidance on Right to Rent checks changed. Agents and landlords could no longer accept documents via email, and would instead need to use a certified IDV, or see documents in person. During the first three months of 2023, awareness and adoption of these changes was low and reflected in our stats.

“Another key factor driving Right to Rent checks is the growth of the rental market. Figures from the latest Hamptons Monthly Lettings Index show that that here were 28% more rental homes in the 12 months to April 2024 when compared to the same period in 2023.”

The latest changes to ‘Right to Rent’ rules announced last week will make it easier for letting agents and landlords to check the status of tenants, the government promises. Under new Right to Rent regulations of the EU Settlement Scheme, anyone with ‘pre-settled status’ will be able to prove it easily, officials say.

The Home Office also said it will change the duration of ‘pre-settled status’ extensions from two to five years. It will also remove the pre-settled status expiry date from the digital profiles shown to third parties in the online checking services for Right to Rent. Alongside this change, letting agents and landlords will not be required to conduct a further Right to Rent check where the individual remains in a tenancy agreement.

Barnett added: “Increasingly letting agents are embracing the latest technology to carry out certified ID checks. As a certified IDSP, our ID identity verification software has been developed using next-generation biometric facial recognition technology, enabling agents to perform ID checks in real-time and confirm that the ID matches the actual person.ID verification.”

Daily news email from EYE

Enter your email below to receive the latest news each morning direct to your inbox.