Landlords now obligated to provide ‘How to Rent’ guide to tenants or face legal costs
In an effort to curtail poor practice by landlords and agents in the private rented and leasehold sectors, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government released new online rental guides targeted at landlords, tenants and buy to let investors. Landlords in England are now legally obligated to provide their tenants, or those renewing, with the correct version of this document, failing which; they may have to face the prospect of expensive legal battles when trying to evict tenants.
Landlords will be putting themselves at legal risk, as Section 21 notices will no longer be valid unless the correct ‘How to Rent’ guide has been provided to the tenant. However, tenants who are currently within a fixed term do not need to be given a replacement version of the guide at this point.
The new version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide provides users with an exhaustive checklist for renting in England and includes information regarding legislative changes including information about the tenants’ fee ban and the upcoming changes to HMO licensing. It also aims to help tenants identify and challenge poor practice as well as understand landlords’ legal obligations towards the tenant and the rental property.
In addition to the ‘How to Rent’ guide, the Government has also updated it’s How to Rent a Safe Home’ guide and produced two new guides: ‘How to Let’ and ‘How to Lease’.
The ‘How to Rent a Safe Home’ guide alerts tenants to potentially unsafe conditions in their rental homes. The guide provides an overview of the most common hazards that tenants may come upon such as faulty gas and electrical appliances, damp or mold, as well as trips and falls hazards, and the procedure to be followed when reporting these dangerous conditions.
The ‘How to Let’ guide, on the other hand, outlines landlords’ key legal responsibilities and best practice when letting a property, and includes instructions regarding the protection of rent deposits, completing gas safety checks and installing smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.
There is also a new ‘How to Lease’ guide, targeted at individuals already living in a leasehold property or anyone thinking of buying one. The document details leaseholders’ unique set of rights and responsibilities and also outlines possible courses of action in the event of financial hardships or disputes.
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said, ‘every day across the country thousands of people move house, from young people leaving home for the first time, to those relocating after years in the same property. Whatever the circumstance, we want to ensure renters; landlords and leaseholders are armed with information so they know their rights, responsibilities and can challenge poor behavior.’