The government’s long-awaited White Paper on post-Brexit immigration policy, published last week, unveiled plans for a single, skills-based immigration system applying equally to non-Europeans and EU citizens to be introduced following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.
The plan also proposes that existing arrangements for UK residency and by implication, Right to Rent checks, will remain in place in their current form until that time, when the government intends to deliver a fully digital system for landlords and agents carrying out Right to Rent checks, focused on simplifying what is a complex system for prospective tenants to navigate.
Under the proposals, EU citizens’ immigration status will be available digitally, replacing the use of cards, making updates to current status immediately available and enabling applicants to share their status with landlords and letting agents.
While Right to Rent checks on non-EU citizens are likely to remain firmly in place, the proposals raise the prospect that responsibility for detecting fraud among ID documents of EU nationals passes back to Immigration Services, partially removing the burden felt by landlords and letting agents when faced with unfamiliar identity documents or evidence that they have allowed a tenancy on the basis of a high-quality forgery.
The prospect of a digital status system for EU nationals has been welcomed by ARLA Propertymark, but the data must be “timely and 100% reliable”, according to the trade body’s chief executive, David Cox.
He said: “It’s absolutely vital that any immigration proposals address the need for a simple and reliable system which will allow landlords and letting agents to treat applicants equally and fairly.
“Housing is fundamental to security and stability, and supply remains a core issue to families across the UK.
“Many tenants and landlords in the UK are very concerned whether choices they are making now on new tenancies and those coming up for renewal, will still conform in months and years to come.”