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Tenant Management

About the “How to Rent” guide for Landlords in England

What is the How To Rent guide? Essentially, the How to Rent guide is an online government document that outlines essential renting advice and guidelines for tenants renting in England and Wales. It details their rights and responsibilities as a tenant as well as the legal obligations of the landlord that they need to know about.

All landlords are legally obliged to ensure that their tenants have received a copy of the How to Rent guide at the beginning of the tenancy.

About the “How to Rent” guide – a checklist for renting in England

The How to Rent Guide is essentially a checklist that gives tenants an overview of all the things that they should know before they move into a rented apartment or house. It answers questions regarding letting agent fees, security deposits, and the Right to Rent. It also runs through all the things a tenant should check before their tenancy starts to ensure everything is done legitimately and legally. This includes:

  • Details of the salient paperwork such as the tenancy agreement and the inventory inspection.
  • Whether thelandlord needs and has a landlord licence
  • Details on banned fees
  • Ensuring they have received key information from the landlord such as the electrical inspect certificate report (EICR), gas safety certificate, and energy performance certificate (EPC).

You can download the current How to Rent guide off of the government website here.

What else is in the How to Rent guide?

On top of detailing key rules and regulations that tenants need to be familiar with it also explains and outlines the tenant’s key responsibilities. These include:

  • Their responsibility to pay rent and any other bills on time
  • Their responsibility to look after the property
  • Not taking lodgers

Plus, it outlines some best practices, things that tenants should do routinely such as testing smoke alarms and reporting maintenance issues to the landlord.

Finally, it details the central responsibilities of the landlord, including:

  • carrying out repairs
  • checking electrical safety every five years
  • making sure the property is free from serious hazards such as damp or mould

The guide suggests landlords should get buildings insurance, check the property’s fixtures and fittings regularly, and make sure blind cords are safe by design.

The final sections focus on what happens at the end of the tenancy and what to do if things go wrong.

how to rent checklist

Where can you get the How to Rent guide?

The most recent copy of the How to Rent guide is available for download on the government website. You will want to download this and send it to each of your new tenants at the start of each tenancy.

There’s also an ‘easy read’ version to help landlords and tenants with learning disabilities to understand their rights and responsibilities.

When was it last updated?

The How to Rent guide is updated regularly to reflect new regulations such as mandatory electrical safety checks, which were introduced in 2020.

It was most recently updated in July 2021 – landlords must make sure they give tenants the latest version of the guide.

What do landlords need to do with the How to Rent guide?

Landlords should send a copy of the How to Rent guide to their new tenants at the start of the tenancy. Landlords should make sure that it is the most recent copy of the guide as it is regularly updated.

The easiest way to do this is to simply attach it to a welcome email. Often landlords will ask for confirmation that the tenant received this so that they have written proof that the guide was sent and received.

If a tenant asks for a hard copy landlords are obliged to provide one.

What happens if landlords don’t provide the How to rent guide?

When a tenant movies in you need to provide them with all the key documents that are deemed ‘prescribed information’. This includes the How to Rent guide, the annual gas safety certificate, the Energy Performance Certificate, and a copy of the EICR.

If you don’t issue an up-to-date version of the How to Rent guide at the start of the tenancy, you may have trouble evicting tenants in the future.

There was actually a legislation update in 2015 that made all Section 21 eviction notices invalid unless the latest version of the guide has been given to tenants at the beginning of the tenancy. It’s important to note that if the guide was updated during the tenancy, you don’t need to give tenants a new copy.

What are the benefits of the How to Rent guide for tenants?

The benefit of the How to Rent guide for tenants

For tenants that are new to renting the How to Rent guide explains many of the important nuances of renting in a simple and easy to read format. The key benefits for renters then include:

  • Helping them understand their responsibilities as a tenant, such as their responsibility to pay rent on time and look after the property.
  • It outlines details of the landlord’s responsibilities such as how maintenance requests should be dealt with and which party is responsible for what.
  • It details what documents they should get at the beginning of the tenancy and what happens at the end of the tenancy so the renewal or move out process can be as smooth as possible.

The benefit of the How to Rent guide for landlords

While this may seem like just another piece of paperwork, another thing to remember the How to Rent guide gives both parties a clear outline of where they stand and the rules and responsibilities of each. For landlords specifically, some key benefits include:

  • helping you keep on top of the latest legislation and what you need to do to remain compliant
  • allowing you to legally retain possession of your property using a Section 21 notice
  • educating tenants about the renting process, which could improve relations and reduce queries
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