What’s updated in the new How to Rent Guide?
- 15th June 2023
- Renting Property News
A new How To Rent Guide has been updated by the Government and this new version must be distributed by landlords and letting agents.
The new How to Rent Guide was published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in late March.
This guide is for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. (The guide does not cover lodgers.)
It provides a checklist and more detailed information on each stage of the process, including:
- what to look out for before renting
- living in a rented home
- what to do if things go wrong
- what happens at the end of a tenancy
The main updates are that letting agents and private landlords are reminded that they must serve the new guide at the start of any new tenancy. Regulation 3 of The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015, states that agents and landlords in England must provide the latest version of ‘How to rent: a checklist for renting in England’. In the previous edition of the guide, published in July 2021, landlords were told they ‘should’ provide it to tenants and this has now become mandatory.
Failure to issue this means landlords could lose the right to repossess using Section 21. It must be given either as a hard copy or, where the tenant has requested, via email as a PDF attachment. There is no requirement for landlords to provide the document again if the assured shorthold tenancy is renewed unless the document has been updated.
Recent legislation has been incorporated into the guide, including the requirement for carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in every room with a fixed fuel-burning appliance and the requirement for Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) to be provided to tenants. The previous version stated that landlords must provide proof that all electrics were safe, but the new guide goes further – instructing landlords to furnish tenants with a report that shows the condition of the electrical installations. Since 1st April 2021 all tenancies in England have required a valid EICR. Landlords must supply a copy of a valid EICR (issued every five years) to all tenants at the beginning of the tenancy, when issuing a new contract (including renewals), and also to any prospective tenant, if asked, within 28 days of receiving a written request. In addition, there must be at least one smoke alarm on every floor used as living accommodation.
Another legal change covers regulations relating to Right to Rent. Landlords and letting agents are now able to use a Government-approved Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) provider to check on the identity and immigration status of prospective tenants. The previous guide referred to manual checks or the use of the Home Office online system only.
There is a section on ensuring the property is suitable for people with a disability. It states that people with a disability or a long-term condition, can request reasonable adjustments from their landlord or agent. This could include changes to the terms of the agreement, or home adaptations and adjustments to common parts of a building to make their home accessible. The guide states: “Your landlord or agent should respond in a reasonable timeframe and if they refuse a request, they should explain why they do not consider it reasonable. Your landlord can ask you to pay for the changes you asked for.”
A new section has been introduced enabling a new tenant to check on the potential flood risk relating to the property and recommending appropriate contents insurance.
Ending a tenancy
This section of the guide has been extended and includes information on what happens if tenants do not leave the property when required to do so and an explanation of the rights of both landlord and tenants.
The new guide includes tenant information on how to challenge proposed rent increases via a tribunal if they are considered excessive.
Check-list for when a tenant moves in
The Guide underlined expected documentation to be issued to tenants, including:
- A gas safety certificate after each annual check if there is a gas installation or appliance.
- Deposit paperwork: if a tenant has provided a deposit, the landlord must protect it in a government-approved scheme within 30 days. Tenants have the right to receive official information about where the money is being held – and how they will get their money back at the end of the tenancy.
- As of April 2020, all privately rented properties must have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of E or higher - this should be provided to the tenant free of charge at the start of their tenancy.
- Evidence that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order.
- An Electrical Installation Condition report.
Letting agents’ requirements
Specific to Letting agents is they must be members of a redress scheme. Tenants are advised to check which independent redress scheme the agent is a member of in case of an unresolved dispute.
They are also advised to check if agents are a member of a client money protection scheme, from a list of approved schemes. By law, this information should also be clearly visible to tenants at the agent’s premises and on their website.
Here at ludlowthompson, we are happy to help our landlord and tenant clients with any aspect of compliance.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
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