Introducing the Revised ‘How to Rent’ Guide: What it Means for Student Landlords in England
The government has recently released the most up-to-date version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide, and its implications for student landlords in England are worth considering.
This version of the guide must be provided to tenants when they commence a new tenancy or during renewal, but it is specifically applicable to statutory periodic tenancies only.
Initially launched in 2014, it is mandatory for landlords and letting agents to offer the latest edition. Failure to do so would result in the landlord forfeiting their right to reclaim their property using section 21.
The new guide incorporates prescribed information with updated details on the installation of carbon monoxide alarms, which are required if there is a fixed fuel-burning appliance in a room. Additionally, it provides information on the installation of smart meters.
‘How to Rent: a checklist for renting in England’ primarily targets tenants in the private rented sector, aiming to provide them with a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
Essentially, this guide offers a comprehensive checklist and relevant information for each stage of the renting process, including:
Steps to take when facing difficulties
Living in a rented property
Concluding a tenancy
Although the latest publication is not obligatory for contractual periodic tenancies, it is crucial that tenants are provided with the most up-to-date version when their tenancy begins.
To ensure compliance, landlords should be mindful of the latest publication and regularly check the .Gov.uk website for the most recent version, guaranteeing that their tenants receive the correct guide at the start of their tenancy.
Propertymark has emphasised the need for the government to establish an annual publication date for the updated guide. This would enable landlords, agents, and tenants to easily identify the valid version.
Consequences of Failing to Provide the Guide to Tenants
Landlords must be aware of the penalties associated with neglecting to provide the guide to tenants at the start of a tenancy, as it directly impacts the eviction process.
Failure to furnish the latest ‘How to Rent’ guide renders landlords unable to employ the section 21 eviction process, commonly known as ‘no-fault’ eviction, when they need to regain possession of their property. Instead, landlords must resort to the section 8 eviction process.
To avoid potential legal complications and fulfill their legal obligations to tenants, both landlords and agents must stay updated with the most recent version of the guide.
Ensuring Property Suitability for Tenants
The new guide also addresses the provision of electrical installation condition reports (EICRs) and outlines how landlords can ensure their properties are suitable for tenants with disabilities.
The guide is accessible online, allowing landlords to share a link with new tenants for them to download and peruse. Alternatively, it can be downloaded as a PDF document and sent via email. Landlords may also choose the traditional route of printing out the guide and delivering it to the property or handing it directly to the tenant.
It is worth noting that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government no longer publishes hard copies of the guide. Therefore, landlords must print one if a tenant requests the guide in that format.
For many landlords, simply sending an email with a link to the relevant .Gov.uk website ensures that the tenant will always have access to the latest version when updates occur.
Notable Changes in the Latest Guide
One significant change in the most recent guide is the inclusion of a list of approved identity providers for Irish and UK citizens.
Landlords and agents should also be aware of changes to the code of practice under the Right to Rent civil penalty scheme.
The latest version of the UK government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide is available for download from their website.