New Series of How To Guides For Landlords

Updated: July 12, 2018

As you are aware from our newsletter on 26 June 2018, the Government has published a new series of online How To Guides for landlords and tenants with the aim of helping them understand their rights and responsibilities.

The new series of How To guides has caused some confusion for landlords.

The new series of How To guides has caused some confusion for landlords.

Below is an analysis of the How to Rent Guide along with a look at the three other How To Guides within the series.

How to rent guide

The How to Rent guide could be identified as the most important guide within the Government’s series. This forms part of the prescribed legal requirements to be issued prior to the tenant taking occupation.

Changes to the new how to rent guide

The new guide includes the following additions:

  • Advises the tenant of an online local housing allowance calculator.
  • Advises the tenant of the impending tenant fee ban.
  • Mentions the Guild of Residential Landlords who run the Private Rented Sector Accreditation Scheme (PRSAS) for landlords.
  • Informs tenants of the importance of checking their landlord has a licence to let the property if it is a type of HMO that requires a licence.
  • Highlights the requirement to provide the tenant with a copy of the gas safety record within 28 days of each annual gas safety check.
  • Informs the tenant of the requirement to have been served with the prescribed information within 30 days of having paid the deposit.
  • Highlights that the landlord cannot evict the tenant following a section 21 notice, should they not have provided the tenant with the correct deposit prescribed information and complied with the prescribed legal requirements.
  • Informs tenants of the requirement for an EPC to be rated band E or above, or for the property to have registered a valid exemption, in order to comply with the MEES.

Confusion over new how to guides

The How To Rent guide has been updated with a little confusion, the initial update following January 2018 was released with the three other How To Guides in the series on 26 June 2018 and a subsequent version on 9 July 2018.

Many landlords will be unaware of the further update on 9 July 2018.

The name of the document has been changed in order to match the requirements under the Deregulation Act 2015 along with two other minor amendments within the document itself.

The guide introduced another confusion in that the file name of the PDF said it was the Jun18 version, the last edit date on the MHCLG website stated 26 June 2018, although at the bottom of page two of the PDF version of the guide said it was July 2018 (the HTML version now says updated 9 July).

This has created great confusion regarding which version should be issued in which situation. There is no clear answer until a court makes a decision. There is a potential that that the 26 June 2018 version is not considered valid due to the name not matching the regulations but we will not know until a court decides.

This could mean that a tenancy commencing on 29 June 2018 would have needed to have been served the January 2018 version as this was the version valid at the time according to the wording in the Deregulation Act 2015.

MHCLG are saying that the July 2018 version is an update of the June 2018 version and landlords are recommended to give tenants who were given the June version this July ‘update’. However the Government website now lists it as an entirely new version.

Which version of the how to rent guide do I serve, June 2018 or July 2018?

As we simply do not know the answer until a court decides, it is important to act in a way in which will work whatever a future court decision is.

Hence it may be advisable to serve all three versions of the How to Rent guide to those tenants that moved in to a property between 26 June 2018 and 9 July 2018 to be on the safe side.

For tenancies starting / renewing after the 9th July 2018 – serve the latest how to rent guide as updated on the 9th July 2018.

Do my current tenants pre-26 June 2018 need a copy of the new how to rent guide?

The answer to this question all depends on the individual situation.

It is not a straight forward yes or no. It is essential that any tenant renting a property in England on a new agreement on or after 26 June 2018 is provided with the new version(s) of the guide.

It is important that evidence is gathered that this action has been carried out in order to be able to prove compliance should it be required. A simple form signed and dated by the tenant to confirm receipt of the how to rent guide to include the version details would be advisable.

When a tenancy is a fixed term tenancy followed by a statutory periodic tenancy, a new how to rent guide is needed if the guide has changed by the day the tenancy becomes statutory periodic, compared to the version that existed when the original version was given at the beginning of the tenancy. This is due to the statutory periodic tenancy being a new agreement. If the how to rent guide had not changed it would not need to be provided again.

Where a tenancy has a fixed element followed by a contractual periodic element it is still one agreement, no new agreement has been created. In this situation a copy of the new guide will not be required to be served on the tenant.

Which guide is the prescribed legal requirement?

How to guides from government

Make sure you are issuing the correct How To guides to your tenants.

As you can see, the ‘how to rent’ guide and the ‘how to rent a safer home’ guide are remarkably similar in design, the difference being the colour and the addition of ‘a safer home’ on one (see illustration).

The vital difference between the How To guides is that the ‘how to rent’ guide is required to be served on the tenant as part of the legal prescribed requirements and the ‘how to rent a safer home’ guide is purely an educational reference guide for use by the tenant and is not required to be served on the tenant.

It is essential that the difference is noted as at a glance it could be easy to issue the incorrect guide which would invalidate any future section 21 notice until the correct version was served.

Implications of not serving the new how to rent guide

In the event that a new How to Rent guide is not served and it was legally required it would render a section 21 notice invalid until such time that the new version of the guide was served.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent

How to lease guide

This guide provides current and prospective leaseholders with advice and guidance on the differences between leasehold and freehold property as well as the rights obligations and implications of being a leaseholder. It appears to be a good learning tool.

It guides a prospective purchaser through the process, from identifying the type of preferred tenure, through to sourcing a solicitor and identifying the service charges and ground rent. Pages 11 to 13 are informative checklists to help a purchaser make an informed decision.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-lease

How to let guide

This guide is for current private residential landlords along with anyone interested in letting a property within the private rented sector.

It is focused on landlords letting to tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy. The how to let guide has been designed to help landlords learn and understand their key legal responsibilities with the aim of helping a landlord create a positive relationship with their tenant. The guide does not cover leasehold, holiday lets or residential landlords who let to lodgers.

The guide gives landlords advice on how to prepare to be a landlord covering topics such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), letting with a mortgage, tax obligations, accreditation schemes and HMOs.

Each section includes a helpful checklist for landlords making the journey towards legal compliance as a landlord clear and concise.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-let

How to rent a safer home guide

This guide is for both social and private rented sector tenants, giving them an overview of the most common hazards to look for in rented properties. A tenant is often aware of the unsafe conditions in which they are living but do not have the knowledge and therefore the power to address the issues.

The guide informs the tenant of the landlord’s legal duties in a clear and easy to understand checklist format. The requirements under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) and the Deregulation Act 2015 are all illustrated. This makes the tenant aware of the landlord’s legal obligations and the tenant’s powers should the landlord not comply.

Tenants are guided through the process of ‘what to do if repairs aren’t done’, providing them with information on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), the protection from retaliatory eviction whilst pointing them in the direction of the courts if required.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent-a-safe-home

As part of our letting plans for landlords, we issue the latest How to Rent guide.  If you wish to discuss our plans or the latest series of how to guides , please contact the landlord team on 0333 577 8888.

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New Series of How To Guides For Landlords
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New Series of How To Guides For Landlords
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Government has published a new series of How To Guides for Landlords and Tenants with the aim of helping them understand their rights and responsibilities.
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LettingaProperty.com
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