ARLA Propertymark has today revealed what it believes is a significant step forwards for letting agents who are processing a substantial number of overseas student tenants.
The Association notes that previously, agents have struggled to carry out Right to Rent checks on overseas student tenants on joint tenancies prior to the start of the new academic year.
Many student tenants secure their rental property weeks or even months before they arrive at university. As such, many agents are unable to comply with the Code of Practice requirement, which states a face-to-face immigration check within the 28 days before the tenancy starts.
ARLA Property highlighted this issue with the Home Office, with the latter now agreeing a template letter that can be used by agents.
This letter will implement an exemption in place for universities to nominate students to take up residence in a specified rental home. The student can activate the process by requesting this letter, but the correspondence must be on University letterhead and must specify the student’s name and date of birth, alongside the address.
Despite the technical exemption, ARLA said it remains best practice to carry out a face-to-face check upon arrival. Records should also be retained according to the code.
Rachel Hartley, Marketing Communications Manager at ARLA Propertymark and a member of the Home Office Consultative Panel on Right to Rent checks, said:
‘This is a big step forward for agents, particularly those who have to process large numbers of students in joint tenancies over a short period of time. Right to Rent checks are one of the hidden tasks in setting up a tenancy. What is referred to as ‘glancing at a passport’ in this case involves an initial check when the tenancy is organised, followed by a second check within 28 days of the start of the tenancy and a further follow-up check carried out either before the expiry of the ID or at 12 months.’
‘In Right to Rent checks the most important thing is always to record the checks that you make accurately.’
‘Any enforcement activity will focus on the paper trail and having an accurate record of what you have done and the decisions that you have taken is essential.’