When renting a property, it is mandatory for all current and prospective tenants in the private sector to be issued with the current version of the Governments ‘How to Rent Guide’ which outlines the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant as well as providing information about the Deposit Protection Scheme and what to do if things go wrong.
This July 2018 update has proved slightly confusing, coming so soon after the June Update, so, what has happened since the June update and what do you need to know?
Serving prospective tenants with the ‘How to Rent’ Guide was introduced by the government in October 2015 following the new Section 21 Legislation for Landlords in England. As well as this guide a landlord also has to have served the incoming tenant with an EPC for the property as well as a Gas Safety Certificate (if applicable) and you need to demonstrate is has been served if you wish to serve a valid Section 21 Notice (possession notice). So, it is pretty important to make sure you get this right!
One of the major changes from the June to the July version of the document was the title on the front cover which has changed from:
HOW TO…RENT A guide for current and prospective tenants in the private rented sector in England
HOW TO…RENT The checklist for renting in England
Whilst, on the face of it this seems like a minor change is is very important that the correct guide is used because the regulations requiring the guide to be given state: that “A landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England, …, must give the tenant … the information mentioned in paragraph (2)”. The document this relates to is referred to as “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”, The 26 June 2018 version did not use the title as specified in the regulations and it was therefore possible to argue that this was not the appropriate guide to use and could therefore compromise a landlord’s ability to service a Section 21 Notice to enable possession of a property. It is recommended that if you have provided the June version of the guide to a tenant you send the updated July version. This new version of the guide should also be provided to any tenancy renewals going forward.
The new version of the guide can be downloaded from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent/how-to-rent-the-checklist-for-renting-in-england
Over the past few years, there have been some quite extensive changes to the legal requirements for landlords and as such, we would always recommend that you seek advice from a reputable letting agent before embarking on a career as a landlord. There are various pieces of legislation which are relevant to lettings which the conditions which need to be met to enable the creation on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy as well as the ability to serve a Valid Section 21 Notice (which enables you to get possession). There are also regulations relating to tenant safety and repairs. Getting any of this wrong can be catastrophic, not to mention expensive and in the worst case scenario could lead to criminal proceedings and even a prison sentence!
Our experienced letting team are on hand to advise if you are a new or existing landlord or a prospective tenant looking for a property, or you can download our handy landlord or tenant guides on our website.