In October 2023, the ‘How to rent’ guide underwent an update, and understanding its significance to your agency and property owners in their letting processes is crucial. The How to rent guide serves as an informative resource for tenants embarking on the private renting journey, whether they rent directly from a property owner or through a letting agent. Distributing this guide to tenants is a fundamental aspect of the letting process, and it is imperative to ensure accuracy and compliance.
What is the How to rent guide?
The How to rent guide is intended for tenants in England who are renting a property under an assured shorthold tenancy, either directly from a property owner or via a letting agent.
This guide covers a wide range of topics, from searching for a new home and what tenants should do once they have found one, to outlining their rights and responsibilities while living in the rented property and concluding the tenancy.
When should the property owner or letting agent provide the guide to the tenant?
The most recent version of the guide must be shared with the tenant at the commencement of their new assured shorthold tenancy.
This is a legal requirement as per the Deregulation Act 2015. The guide can be provided either in print or electronically via email, with the tenant’s consent.
Is the guide required upon renewal or when transitioning to a periodic tenancy? Property owners or agents are not obligated to supply the guide again when the tenancy agreement is renewed or transitions to a periodic tenancy unless the guide has been updated since the initial contract began.
What are the consequences of serving the How to rent guide to the tenant at the wrong time or not at all?
If you intend to evict a tenant using a section 21 notice, you must have furnished them with a How to rent guide. Failure to do so will render you unable to serve the eviction notice.
Likewise, it is essential to ensure that the guide is provided at the correct time, which is before the tenants move in. Failure to deliver the document before the start of their new tenancy could potentially invalidate the section 21 eviction notice. However, the process for issuing a section 8 notice remains unaffected by the How to rent guide requirements.
What can agents and property owners do to ensure compliance with the How to rent guide?
It is crucial to regularly check the government’s website to determine when the latest version of the guide was issued. The webpage maintains a record of any updates made to the document, allowing you to confirm if any changes have occurred since the commencement of the tenancy, especially during a tenancy renewal.
To avoid errors, you can directly obtain the latest version from the government’s website and provide it to tenants at the outset of each new tenancy.
Additionally, maintaining an audit trail of what your tenants have received is essential. You can request tenants to sign a document confirming receipt and keep a record of email communications for reference.
The information in this post is valid to the best of our knowledge on the date of posting. It is advised that you seek independent advice based on your individual circumstances.
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