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The How to Rent Guide Revisited – What’s New In The March 2023 Update And Why It Matters For Landlords & Letting Agents

As of 24 March 2023, The Department for Levelling Up; Housing & Communities has updated it’s How to Rent guide. The guide is written for people who are renting a home privately under an assured shorthold tenancy either from a landlord directly or through a letting agency in England & Wales. However it can be useful for landlords & letting agencies so that they are aware of their responsibilities.

What is the How to Rent Guide and why does it matter?

The first How to Rent guide was published on 10 June 2014 and was a supplementary document to assist tenants during the rental process. However under section 39 of the Deregulation Act 2015 and Regulation 3 of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015, it became a legal requirement for landlords and letting agents to serve the latest version of the guide to tenants on all tenancies created or renewed from 1 October 2015.

It can be provided to the tenant in a hard copy or by email. However providing the guide by email is only valid ‘where the tenant has notified the landlord, or a person acting on behalf of the landlord, of an e-mail address at which the tenant is content to accept service of notices and other documents given under or in connection with the tenancy.’

A landlord cannot serve a valid section 21 notice until the correct version(s) of the guide has been provided to the tenant. Otherwise the landlord will have to rely on section 8 grounds to regain possession of the property. Therefore, the importance of providing the most correct version of the guide cannot be understated.

What’s new?

The March 2023 guide has been updated to encompass the recent changes to legislation and regulations. The three main changes to the How to Rent guide are:

1. The requirement to have carbon monoxide alarms in all rooms that have a fixed combustion appliance – This reflects the changes in The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2022.

2. A requirement to provide the tenant with an Electrical Installation Condition Report, which must also be produced to the council if it is requested.

3. The changes to the Code of practice on right to rent: civil penalty scheme for landlords and their agents – This was updated as of 23 March 2023 and removes the adjusted checks that were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which ended on 30 September 2022.

Final words

It is clear that the rights and responsibilities of a landlord and letting agents are a complicated affair however it is crucial to be aware of these updates and changes. Failure to keep up with the changing legislation, regulation and guides can make all the difference between being able to regain possession of the property effectively. The How to Rent Guide is one of the 6 core documents that have to be provided to tenants at the outset of the tenancy along with:

  • Current Gas Safety Certificate for the Property (if gas is installed)
  • Deposit Paperwork
  • The Energy Performance Certificate
  • A report that shows the condition of the property’s electrical installations.
  • Evidence that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy.

However, In addition to being a legal requirement, the How to Rent guide serves as a useful starting point for landlords and letting agents alike. It makes them aware of the expectations tenants have as well being a useful but non-definitive checklist of their responsibilities and obligations.

The latest copy of the How to Rent Guide can be found here.

If you require assistance in regards to any issues regarding rent, contact our property disputes experts on 0330 822 3451 or request a call back.

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