What is the How to Rent guide?
Providing the government's How to Rent guide to tenants is essential to remember as a landlord. This guide explains what it is and why it's crucial!
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What is the How to Rent guide?
The government's How to Rent guide enables renters to understand how the renting procedure works and what to watch out for when they find a home.
When a new tenant moves in, you - as the landlord - must provide them with a copy of the government's How to Rent booklet.
Current and potential tenants can get guidance on the rental procedure in England and Wales in the government's online How to Rent handbook. It explains their legal rights and obligations as tenants as well as the duties of landlords.
A copy of the How to Rent booklet must be given to each tenant at the start of their tenancy, per the law.
Three key things to know
- If the renter has provided an email address, you can serve them a hardcopy (printed version) or a digital version through email. At the beginning of the tenancy, the pamphlet should be provided.
- Since the booklet is likely to be modified in the future, it is crucial to provide the most recent version at the beginning of the tenancy. However, even if newer versions are published, you don't have to keep giving out copies.
- Unless a new version has been produced, you do not need to serve a new copy of the booklet when a tenancy is extended (for example, new contracts are signed with the same tenants); you will need to confirm this at the appropriate time.
Which version of the How to Rent guide do I need to give to my tenants?
The latest version of the How to Rent guide was issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 21st July 2021.
What happens if I don't issue the How to Rent guide?
If you don't issue the most up-to-date How to Rent booklet, it could land you in a whole lot of trouble. Under the Section 21 Legislation for Landlords in England, you won’t be able to repossess your property (heaven forbid it should get to that stage) with a Section 21 notice if you haven't provided your tenant with the How to Rent guide.
To avoid any potential trouble, all landlords should issue the latest How to Rent guide to their tenants at the beginning of any new tenancy. As an additional safeguard, ask your tenant to sign a release form, confirming that they have been provided with an up-to-date version.
More updates are bound to come in 2021, but the good thing is that you are not required to supply a further copy of the document each time a new version is published during the tenancy.
A checklist for renting in England:
The How to Rent manual is organised as a checklist, providing tenants with a summary of everything they need to know prior to moving into a rental home.
It begins by posing inquiries on security deposits, letting agent fees, and the Right to Rent.
Following that, the How to Rent checklist walks tenants through all the items they should inspect before moving in, including:
tenancy agreement and inventory; whether you have the proper landlord licence; whether you are who you claim to be as a landlord; whether they are paying any prohibited fees, like an upfront agency fee; and whether they have received important documents, like a gas safety certificate and an energy performance certificate.
We all know that when renting out a property, the requirement for landlords to provide prescribed information and associated legal documents is a complicated affair. So much so that some pundits believe there is a strong case for simplification by either consolidating housing legislation now or by undertaking a review of the Law Commission’s 2006 Report.
What else is it composed of?
The handbook explains a tenant's obligations, which include:
maintaining the property, paying the rent and any other bills on schedule, and avoiding taking in lodgers
Additionally, it outlines some of the responsibilities of tenants, including frequent smoke alarm testing, prompt reporting of problems to the landlord, and possessions insurance.
The How To Rent Guide is also a list of the major duties of landlords, including:
- Performing repairs
- Every five years, electrical safety should be checked, as should the presence of major risks like mould or wet.
- The guide advises getting landlord insurance, and routinely inspecting the property's fixtures, and making sure the blinds are secure.
Where is it found?
It is accessible via the official website. You can therefore read it online or download a PDF copy of it.
For the benefit of landlords and tenants who may struggle with reading, there is also a "easy read" version available.
How recently was it updated?
The How to Rent guide is frequently updated to suit new laws like the mandated electrical safety tests that went into effect in 2020.
The most recent modification was made in July 2021, and landlords are required to provide tenants with the most recent edition.
What happens if you don't comply with these guidelines?
When new renters move in, the How to Rent manual is provided along with the "required information." Additionally, you must now provide tenants with copies of important records including the Energy Performance Certificate and the Annual Gas Safety Certificate.
If you don't hand out a current copy of the How to Rent manual at the beginning of the rental, you can later find it difficult to remove tenants.
A 2015 legislative revision made it so that Section 21 eviction notices are no longer legitimate unless renters have received the most recent copy of the guide.
This implies that you won't be able to evict a tenant legally if you provide them a copy of the How to Rent guide and serve them with a Section 21 notice in the future.
You don't have to provide tenants a fresh copy of the handbook if it is updated while they are still paying rent. Additionally, you won't need to supply another copy of the guide if a new tenancy takes the place of an existing one (for instance, if the tenant renews).
What advantages do tenants get from the How to Rent guide?
The government's How to Rent handbook provides basic, easy-to-read explanations of the renting process for novice tenants. For renters, there are various advantages, such as:
Giving them information about your responsibilities, such as taking care of maintenance issues, so that everyone is aware of their respective roles will help everyone understand where they stand. Helping them understand what happens at the end of the tenancy so that the renewal or move out process is as seamless as possible.
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