From the 1st of October 2015 it became a statutory requirement that landlords issue all new tenants after that date with the latest edition of a Government publication “The How to Rent Guide”, along with a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a current Gas Safety Certificate (CP12).

How to Rent

The guide is an attempt by Government to inform and educate tenants and landlords, by making the renting public aware of their rights, which should help the industry as it strives to stamp out bad practices.

For convenience, the guide and the other supporting documents can be delivered by e-mail to the tenant/s providing they have agreed to accept documents and correspondence in this way, so landlords and agents should make sure that their letting documentation (application form) includes a statement to this effect, which the tenant agrees to. You should request acknowledgement of receipt of any e-mail correspondence.

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Failure to supply these documents as stated will mean that landlords / agents are precluded from using the no-fault Section 21 eviction process.

With the introduction of the “Right-to-Rent” checks from 1st of February 2016 the “How to Rent” Guide has been updated to include information on Right to Rent for the tenants’ benefit.

It’s a good idea to give these documents to tenants at the start of every tenancy, making sure that you are supplying the latest and current documentation at the time of the start of the new tenancy, but the legislation simply requires service BEFORE service of a 21 notice. If the guide is updated during the course of the tenancy and after the guide has been provided, then the landlord does not have to serve an updated version later.

However, this is an important point to remember: tenancy renewal (signing a new agreement) or when the tenancy automatically becomes periodic, are both classed in law as new tenancies. This means that the latest edition of the guide MUST be served again at the time of a new tenancy, or at least before serving a s21 notice.

You can find the latest version of the How to Rent Guide here

Right to Rent

From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England have to make “Right to Rent” sometimes referred to as “Right to Reside” or immigration checks. This means checking that tenants have the right to be in the UK. Failure to comply could mean a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant and possibly a criminal conviction. Make sure that ALL tenants are checked and documented through a similar process to avoid breaching discrimination laws. More information here: Doing Right to Rent Checks

You need to make right to rent checks if you are a private landlord letting a residential rental property or take in a live-in lodger. The same requirement applies when sub-letting. Landlords can delegate the responsibility to an agent to do “Right to Rent” checks, but there MUST be a written agreement to that effect.

You can find information on Right to Rent checks here

Gas Safety Checks  

Landlords have specific legal responsibilities to their tenants when it comes to gas safety. As a landlord, you are legally responsible for the safety of your tenants. Landlords’ duties apply to a wide range of accommodation, occupied under a lease or licence.

All of these situations apply: residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels, rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households (lodgers), bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels, rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe. Landlords must maintain pipework, appliances and flues in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available it is recommended that they are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Gas safety checks must be done by Gas Safe registered engineer every 12 months on every gas appliance/flue in the property.

A record of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or to new tenants before they move in. Landlords must keep copies of the gas safety record for two years.

You can find information on Gas Safety Checks here

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is built, sold and rented.

The legislation says that and EPC MUST be provided to potential buyers and tenants when you market a property to sell or rent.

In Scotland, the EPC must be displayed somewhere in the property, for example, in the meter cupboard or next to the boiler.

An EPC is designed to inform potential buyers or renters about the energy efficiency (performance) of the property and therefore the property’s energy use and likely energy costs

There will be recommendations about how to improve the property’s energy efficacy if applicable and therefore how to reduce energy use and save money. An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.

Under the Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations (Non-Domestic) residential landlords will be forced to upgrade the energy efficiency of any home currently rated F and G to a minimum of E by 1 April 2018 – or face being unable to let them until they improve the rating.

Almost 10% of England and Wales’ 4.2m privately rented homes currently fall below the E rating so many landlords will be affected by this.

It also means that from 1 April 2016, tenants living in F and G-rated homes will be able to request improvements such as more insulation. The landlord will then be legally bound to bring the home up to an E-rating.

You can find information on EPCs here

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