Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guidance updated again

Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guidance updated again

The guide, called ‘How to Rent: The Checklist for renting in England’ was updated on 31 May 2019, and again recently on 7 August 2019, and it’s a landlord’s duty to make sure tenants are using the latest version.

The May version was the first major update since July 2018 and reflected changes arising from the Tenant Fees Act 2019 from 1 June 2019. The new version includes only minor amendments correcting some updated letting scheme names, such as the rebranding of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) to Safeagent, some updated links within the guide, plus minor changes to wording.

However, minor the changes are, the landlord’s obligation is to provide the correct version of the guide and failure to do so can affect the landlord’s ability to recover possession of the property.

The guide is part of the prescribed information that a landlord is required to give to their tenant before an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) starts. A landlord must supply the current version of the guide as either a printed copy or, if the tenant agrees, by email as PDF attachment.

The requirement for a landlord to give this information is set out in the Deregulation Act 2015 and has applied to all new ASTs entered into since 1 October 2015. Under Section 21B of the Housing Act 1988 a landlord may not give a valid Section 21 Notice to terminate an AST if they haven’t complied with this obligation.

While there is no obligation to provide an updated version of the guide that occurs during a tenancy, landlords should ensure the latest version is provided to a tenant who signs a new fixed term AST or when a new statutory continuation tenancy arises.