On 10 December 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a new ‘How to Rent Guide’.
This update is important for landlords, particularly those in the private rented sector.
For any assured shorthold tenancy post 1 October 2015, the tenant must be provided with a copy of the How to Rent Guide. Landlords must provide the most recent version available at the start of the tenancy (or if served later, it is likely a later version would suffice).
The Guide must be provided to the tenant in a hard copy, unless the tenant has expressly agreed to receive a PDF version by email. It should be noted that landlords are not required to supply a further copy of the booklet each time a new version is published during the tenancy. However, where a tenancy is renewed and the guide has been updated, the updated version should be provided. This requirement does not apply to landlords who are private registered providers of social housing. This includes housing associations and other housing providers registered with the Regulator of Social Housing.
Where a landlord fails to provide a How to Rent Guide, they are prohibited from serving a section 21 notice.
The How to Rent Guide contains a checklist and information on each stage of the renting process for tenants, including what to look out for before renting, living in a rented home, what happens at the end of the tenancy, and what to do if things go wrong.
Interestingly, the new Guide addresses the Government’s plans to end section 21 evictions, but cautions that section 21 remains valid in the meantime. Whilst reform is anticipated, no steps have been taken to action this, although it is clearly still the Government’s intention to make this change.