How to Rent Guide:

It is very important when setting up a new tenancy, or on renewal, and when serving a section 21 notice, that all the prerequisites have been complied with. The latest forms and documents should always be used. Keep yourself up-to-date with the requirements through the following links and information.

Following the commencement on the 1st of June 2019 of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 there was a necessity for the Government to update its “How to Rent”, the updated version of which is now available here ‘How to Rent’ 

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Alongside this guide, the government has also been obliged, as a result of the new Act, to update the Section 21 possession notice known as Form 6a, available here Form 6a  

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 introduces yet another requirement before a valid Section 21 notice can be served, that is, not to have taken a “prohibited payment” as prescribed by the Act.

The “How to Rent” guide serves as an important reminder to both landlords and tenants of their obligations under a AST residential tenancy in England, and it also offers helpful advice mainly to tenants looking to rent, and those living in rented accommodation.

Originally introduced after the changes to the letting rules brought in by the Deregulation Act of 2015, it means that landlords are legally obliged to provide their tenants with the current version of the guide at the commencement of every tenancy, or on renewal, since 1 October 2015.

This process is very important for landlords to comply with, as any Section 21 notice served before the correct version of the guide is provided to the tenant will be void and unenforceable.

Although the Section 21 “not-fault” eviction process is reportedly under threat and subject to a government consultation exercise, in England it is still a very important process for landlords to use in the unfortunate event that a tenants must be evicted. Landlords should be mindful of the fact that the S21 process is very beneficial to them in these circumstances and therefore to help ensure its survival, should be used only when eviction is for legitimate reasons.

In order to use the Section 21 process various Acts introduced over recent years have made it conditional on meeting certain administrative requirements, all of which require some considerable attention to detail by landlord or their agents when setting up a new tenancy, and all involve obtaining documentary proof that they have been carried out correctly.

Reminder of the S21 Requirements:

Before serving a section 21 notice for an assured shorthold tenancy, landlords and letting agents must as well as other general legal requirements for a tenancy, ensure that the following points have been complied with:

  1. Ensure that where there is a gas supply in the property a current Gas Safety Certificate is given to the tenant at the commencement of the tenancy and that any gas appliance have been served annually. Following a couple of recent cases, unfortunately if this has not been complied with the current situation is that this oversight cannot be mended and a valid section 21 process can never be served for the tenancy.
  2. The tenant has been provided with a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) unless in certain circumstances, such as when individual tenants in HMOs don’t require one. In this case the EPC should be prominently displayed for the HMO building as a whole.
  3. The current version at the time of the commencement of each tenancy of the “How to Rent” guide is provided to the tenant.
  4. The tenants are provided with the correct prescribed information relating to the deposit protection agency used, when a deposit is taken. The deposit must be protected within 30 days of its receipt and the prescribe information must be served on the person, persons or entity providing the deposit.
  5. Where there is a requirement to have a selective licence or an HMO licence then the tenant/s should be provided with a copy.
  6. Any deposit such as a holding deposit should be documented and must have been returned to the tenant.

It is likely that in the not too distant future landlords will also be required to serve on their tenants a valid Electrical Safety test certificate and an EPC that meets the minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES), i.e., that is a minimum of an E rating.  

Note: Supplying documents by electronic means (email attachments of .pdf files for example) is allowed but copies must be of original documents and not links to websites. Also, the tenant must have agreed to receive notifications in this way, so a clause to this effect must be included in the tenancy agreement. And be sure to get acknowledgement of receipt.

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