Following recent changes to legislation The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DHLUC) is expected to issue an updated version of the renter's 'How to Rent'� guide soon.
This is an important document as far as residential landlords and letting agents are concerned because it is one of the prescribed documents that must be issued to tenants at the commencement of their tenancy, and on renewals, in England.
There are three important points here:
1 '� Without having issued a guide, landlords or their agents are unable to use the section 21 eviction process '� it will fail. Although the section 21 process is likely to be revoked at some point in the near future, though this is not likely until at least well into 2023, it is nevertheless an important legal requirement to issue the guide.
2 '� The guide issued must always be the latest available version at the time of the commencement of a new tenancy, or on a renewal. If the earlier version was issued in error then landlords or their agents should follow up with the tenant/s by issuing the later version.
3 '� It is important to get proof of issuing the guide, otherwise if the tenant denies having received it a landlord's section 21 possession claim will fail. The latest version of the guide should ideally be appended to the tenancy agreement and signed for, or an email version sent with its receipt acknowledged.
There have been several new pieces of legislation enacted since the issue of the last How to Rent guide, so new information will most likely be incorporated into the new guide:
1 '� The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022
2 - Changes to the Code of Practice on Right to Rent Civil Penalty Scheme for landlords and their agents
3 '� The Fire Safety Act 2021 (Commencement) (England) Regulations 2022.
Prescribed information when letting
The information you need provide to your tenant/s at the commencement of a tenancy has increased dramatically over the years and has now grown to quite a list. It is vital that you fulfil all your obligations in this regard, timely and accurately, not just because it's a legal requirement but to enable you to progress a possession claim in the unlikely event you need to do this. These are the things you must do:
1 '� Deposits - you must protect any deposit you take in one of the government approved schemes and you must also serve your tenants with'�the Prescribed Information, all within 30 days of the receiving the deposit.
Prescribed Information for deposits is a specific set of information relating to a tenancy, which landlords are legally obliged to provide to their tenants, which consists of:'�
- The amount of the deposit
- The address of the property
- The name, address and contact details of the administrator of the'�tenancy deposit scheme with which the deposit is held, and
- The name, address and contact details of the landlord and tenants'�and any third parties'�who have contributed to the deposit.
Make sure you have proof of service on all these documents, ideally served and signed for at the time of signing the tenancy agreement.
3 '� The electrical safety certificate '� a five-year electrical safety certificate issued by a qualified electrical engineer must be current and issued to the tenant/s at the time of the commencement of the tenancy.
4 '� Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) '� a 10-year EPC must be current at the time of the commencement of a new tenancy and issued to the tenant/s.
Other requirements the landlord or agent must fulfil to ensure that a valid section 21 possession claim will not fail are:
1 '� Follow the requirements for the vetting of tenants for Right to Rent.
2 '� Make sure there is a rental property licence issued by the local authority, where required, or one has been applied for.
3 - Make sure the letting fees ban is being complied with, not to take prohibited fees under these rules or retain a holding deposit
4 '� If a notice has been served on the landlord or his agent after a complaint about the property (retaliatory eviction), these complaints must be dealt and the grace period lapsed with before issuing a section 21 notice.