New rules recently came into place allowing landlords in England to use ID verification technology to carry out digital identity checks.
This means that prospective tenants can now have their ID checks carried out using technology authorised by the Home Office, as opposed to documents being physically examined by landlords.
If implemented successfully, the new technology could reduce risk and help streamline the right to work and right to rent checks. However, the proposals have a long way to go to give landlords certainty that they are following the rules correctly, as the system as it stands presents a number of challenges.
Firstly, there is the question of cost. Landlords are receiving emails from the Home Office telling them to prepare for the new system, but the list of authorised providers has not been released, meaning landlords are unable to get quotes for the new technology.
My view is that this technology will likely be cost effective for larger organisations with a higher turnover of staff but will impact smaller businesses adversely.
Then comes the issue of company certification. Only certified tech companies will be authorised to undertake these identity checks, but it appears that responsibility to check if a tech company remains certified will lie with employers and landlords, not the tech companies themselves or government.
Given the high risk that companies face if they get it wrong, they need assurances they can rely on third-party providers without the worry that their provider’s certification will be removed without them knowing or having to check every year that they are still certified.
Finally, data could be a serious issue. Organisations considering using the new ID tech need to be mindful of GDPR. And, as with many other digital identity checks, prospective landlords offering ID tech will need to ensure that the public are using safe and secure ways to establish their identity, given the risk of fraud and security concerns.
With all these factors in mind, is it worth it for landlords to invest their time and money in this new technology? I say yes – but not just yet.
Emma Humphreys is a partner and Paul McCarthy is senior associate at Charles Russell Speechlys
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