The Government has now published its latest version of the How to Rent Guide: The Checklist for Renting in England (“the How to Rent Guide”) and brushing up on the guidance it offers and when / why a landlord should provide a tenant with a copy of the How to Rent Guide remains worthwhile as ever.
The How to Rent Guide applies to the private rented sector in England and it provides checklist advice about the rights and responsibilities of tenants and the legal obligations of landlords when renting homes under an assured shorthold tenancy (“AST”).
To date, and including the most recent version published on 2 October 2023, there have been 14 versions of the How to Rent Guide and the guidance provided covers matters such as permitted fees that a tenant can be asked to pay; house in multiple occupation licensing requirements; things a tenant should consider and look into when searching for a property to rent; the paperwork and things that a landlord must provide a tenant with at the start or renewal of a tenancy; what a tenant and landlord must do once their tenancy has started; what a tenant should do at the end of a fixed term if they want to stay in the property; what a tenant or landlord should do if they want to end a tenancy; and what a tenant or landlord should do if things go wrong.
The How to Rent Guide also specifies several mandatory requirements that all landlords must comply with including fitting smoke alarms on every floor; fitting carbon monoxide alarms in any rooms where there is a combustible gas appliance (excluding a gas cooker); completing and providing tenants with Gas Safety Certificates; completing and providing tenants with Electrical Installation Condition Reports for the property; making properties suitable for tenants who are disabled.
Given the increased access to free legal advice and representation that tenants are expected to receive in the years to come, it remains ever important that landlords renting property privately should take stock and consider whether they are complying with their obligations set out in the How to Rent Guide. Failure to do so is likely to leave landlords facing increased challenges repossessing the property should they ever need to.
Landlords should provide their tenants with the current version of the How to Rent Guide at the appropriate time, being either before a tenant moves into a property at the start of a new tenancy or before a tenancy is renewed (but this obligation only bites if a new version of the How to Rent Guide has been published after the start of the tenancy that is being renewed). If landlords fail to provide tenants with a current version of the How to Rent Guide at the appropriate time, then a Section 21 Notice, seeking possession of the property, that a landlord subsequently serves of a tenant may in fact be in valid.
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The above is accurate as at 09 October 2023. The information above may be subject to change.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.