With Right to Rent checks now a vital part of the lettings process, having an understanding of potentially fraudulent documentation is a key part of a landlord's toolkit.
It is assumed that every document that will be being provided for a Right to Rent check is going to be a valid, legitimate identifying document. However it is important to bear in mind that identity documents can be falsified, and you should be alert to potentially fraudulent documentation.
With millions of Right to Rent checks take place across the UK, and the Home Office taking a hard stance on anyone trying to rent illegally in the country, it is possible that fake IDs will be an option for some tenants. It is vital that as a landlord you know what you are looking for. If you make the wrong call and let a fake ID slip through the net, you could be liable for a hefty fine.
So, how do you tell a real ID from a fake? With over 30 different types of document valid for Right to Rent checks, and every country in the world having different ways of displaying information, telling right from wrong could be a potential minefield.
The law regarding fake ID documents identifies five types of false documents:
- A genuine document which is being used by someone else
- A genuine document which has been altered
- Genuine document which has been fraudulently obtained
- A fake document which is a copy of a genuine document
- A fake document which is a form of ID that does not exist.
- You will need to be able to identify whether or not the document you have been given not only belongs to the holder, but also whether or not it is official issue, and be sure that it hasn't been altered in any way.
There are a few things to be aware of that might help identify a fraudulent document:
- If the ID has a photograph, compare the image closely with the person – don’t be afraid to really study the person and the picture.
- Be slightly suspicious if the ID is a couple of years old, but person looks absolutely identical and is even wearing the same clothes as they are at your meeting - it could be that the ID was made that day!
- Does the photo have red-eye? This would not be the case if it was an official image.
- Feel the picture – does it feel raised? If so this may suggest that the image you can see has been added on top of an original picture, so it may be that the ID has been tampered with in some way.
- Are there holograms where you would expect there to be? Most passports have a small holographic element on one or two of the pages – check these carefully.
- Do they flake off when scratched, or are there bubbles in the foiling?
- Turn the document from side-to-side. An official hologram should flash in and out of vision, they should not remain constantly bright and visible.
- A hologram on an official piece of documentation will feature a particular image, so check the relevant country's government guidance and make sure the hologram matches perfectly
- Does the design of the document match the official design that you expect?
- Many forms of ID change the design regularly – the design of UK passports were changed in 2006, 2010 and 2015 for example – make sure you know what design is issued at what time and make sure the dates match up.
- It is possible people will have had a fake ID produced expressly for the Right to Rent checks – the document is likely to be brand new, and look it. If you have been presented with a passport that is supposed to be five years old, does it look like this, or is it fresh off the press?
- Ask the holder for a detail from their ID – if it is a fake using someone else’s details, many people won’t be able to recall details under pressure.
- Does the tenant look nervous? If they have a valid form of identification they shouldn’t have anything to be nervous about!
The Right to Rent scheme accepts many documents as acceptable proof of identify, and it is understandable if you are not familiar with all of them. We have produced a reference document which contains images of all of the documents accepted on as part of the Right to Rent checks. If you would like a copy of the document, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are concerned about any aspects of Right to Rent, or worried about your ability to manage the scheme, our team can help. we can offer assistance, or even carry out your checks for you! Give us a call on on 0800 689 9955 or contact us at email@example.com for more information.
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