Did you know that under the changes to the Section 21 Legislation for Landlords in England that came into force on the 1st October 2015, landlords are required to provide all tenants with a How to Rent Guide?
The useful eight-page booklet created by the government provides a checklist for those people about to rent a house or flat and provides information on the rights and responsibilities of tenants to help establish and maintain good relationships.
What information does the guide cover?
The guide provides tenants with a checklist, starting with the period before looking for a tenancy, then covering rights and responsibilities during and at the end of a tenancy. This helps make sure potential new tenants have considered the implications of their tenancy and are aware of what is required of them. It also provides the usual information on what is required of a landlord.
During the tenancy, the guide lays out a simple list of requirements of all tenants, including:
· Paying rent on time;
· Looking after the property;
· Being considerate to neighbours;
· Not taking in a lodger or sub-letting without permission.
Furthermore, they are recommended to make sure that they can:
· Operate the boiler and other appliances;
· Undertake regular smoke and carbon monoxide alarm checks, and;
· Report repairs to the landlord quickly.
Information is also provided on the requirements of landlords, including:
· Maintaining the structure and exterior property;
· Dealing with utility supply problems such as water, gas or electricity;
· Maintaining appliances or furniture;
· Carrying out repairs;
· Arranging annual Gas Safety Checks where necessary;
· Providing 24 hours notice of visits;
· Acquiring necessary licensing, such as for houses in multiple occupation.
It is also recommended that landlords should insure the building to cover costs of damage from flood or fire.
Finally, the guide covers basic information on the end of a fixed period, including areas such as:
· If the tenant wishes to stay, including signing up to a new fixed term and dealing with rent increase, and;
How Can the Guide Be Provided to Tenants?
The How to Rent Guide information must be provided to tenants in either hard copy or by email. Landlords may find it beneficial to provide a hard copy to tenants within a property manual or folder, alongside an email copy that will provide proof that the document has been provided.
It is important that tenants receive the most up to date version of the How to Rent Guide, which can be downloaded here, although it is not required that existing tenants must be provided with new, updated versions once the tenancy has begun.
Why must the guide be given to new tenants?
If the information is not provided, alongside the Energy Performance Certificate and Gas Safety Certificate, then filing a Section 21 Notice to seek repossession of a property cannot be successful.