After a six-month pilot in the West Midlands, the UK Government has confirmed that landlords will be compelled to perform "Right to Rent" checks on all prospective tenants to ascertain their immigration status.
Right to Rent checks have generated a number of concerns, from the potential for discrimination by private landlords, to increased homelessness, to the operational burden on housing associations and local authorities. The vast array of UK and international ID documents that may need to be checked only compounds these concerns.
However, most tenants are already subjected to a number of checks, including references from previous landlords and credit scoring, with an increasing number of landlords using the services of specialist tenant referencing companies. These companies, together with Local Authorities and Housing Associations, all use tenant management systems.
As the processing of ID documents can be automated and the complex rules codified by experts into automated decisioning systems, there is an opportunity to improve existing tenant management systems and vetting processes with the addition of automated Right to Rent checks.
Fears of greatly increased costs are unfounded: there is no need for expensive document scanners with simple cost-per-check pricing for instant online services that can also automatically verify previous addresses and check for counterfeit documents and other risk factors.
This will not only reduce the administration and compliance risk burden faced by landlords but will also help address the fears of discrimination, as an automatically validated document is just that - systems don't discriminate on names or accents.
Compulsory checks by landlords on the immigration status of new tenants are to be introduced across the country from February, Home Office ministers have announced.