Serving the tenant with a copy of the latest How to rent guide 2023 (last updated 2 October 2023), a booklet issued by the government detailing a checklist for tenants when renting, is one of the very first actions you must take before renting out a house in England.
- What is the How to Rent guide?
- What version of the How to Rent guide do I need to give my tenants?
- Can I email a copy of the How to Rent guide to my tenant?
- What happens if I don't issue the How to Rent guide?
- How does the How to Rent guide benefit landlords?
- What other documents do I need
What is the How to rent guide?
The How to rent guide is an online government document providing advice to current and prospective tenants on the rental process in England and Wales. It details their rights and responsibilities as a tenant, as well as the legal obligations of landlords.
Every landlord must ensure their tenant(s) have received a copy of the How to Rent guide at the beginning of their tenancy. Click here to download the latest version of the How to rent guide.
Which version of the How to rent guide do I need to give to my tenants?
The latest version of the How to rent guide was issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 2 October 2023.
The October 2023 How to rent guide has been updated with advice on how to access free legal aid services and support, regardless of financial circumstances.
It contains information on the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service, replacing the Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes (HCPDS), which provides legal advice to tenants at risk of eviction. Click to read Government notes on the latest version release.
This follows updates made in March 2023 as follows:
- Approved Identity Service Providers for UK/Irish citizens under Right to Rent
- Mandatory requirement to have Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms in a property where there is a combustible gas appliance (excluding a gas cooker)
- Changes to the Code of Practice on Right to Rent to Rent Civil Penalty Scheme for agents and their landlords
Can I email a copy of the How to rent Guide to my tenant?
Although many people still like to receive a good old-fashioned printed copy of the How to rent guide, for those who have fully embraced new technology it’s probably easier for you to email them a digital copy. It’s also best practice to provide them with the direct web link, so they always have access to the latest updated version.
At lettingaproperty.com, all tenants are provided with the How to rent guide PDF.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will not be publishing hard copies of the How to Rent booklet, so if a tenant asks for the guide in this format you will have to print it out yourself.
Landlords already have a mountain of paperwork to deal with: tenancy agreements, gas safety certificates, electrical condition reports and energy performance certificates – the list goes on. However, just because the How to rent guide is free to download, doesn’t mean there is reason to underestimate its importance.
What happens if I don’t issue the How to rent guide?
If you don’t issue the 2023 How to rent guide, it could land you in a whole lot of trouble. Under the Section 21 Legislation for Landlords in England, you won’t be able to repossess your property (heaven forbid it should get to that stage) with a Section 21 notice if you haven’t provided your tenant with the How to rent guide.
To avoid any potential trouble, all landlords should issue the latest How to rent guide to their tenants at the beginning of any new tenancy. As an additional safeguard, ask your tenant to sign a release form, confirming that they have been provided with an up-to-date version.
More updates are bound to come in 2024, but the good thing is that you are not required to supply a further copy of the document each time a new version is published during the tenancy.
At lettingaproperty.com, we issue the How to rent guide to your tenants on your behalf, so you’ll never have to worry about it. Find out more.
The How to rent guide makes a pretty good landlord’s checklist too!
We all know that when renting out a property, the requirement for landlords to provide prescribed information and associated legal documents is a complicated affair. So much so that some pundits believe there is a strong case for simplification by either consolidating housing legislation now or by undertaking a review of the Law Commission’s 2006 Report.
Who knows what might happen in 2023, but the point about the here and now – whether you’re letting a house, apartment or bedsit – you must make sure everything is in order. This includes:
- Making sure you have adequate landlord’s insurance
- Checking all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working
- Ensuring the property has a valid gas safety certificate, EICR and EPC
While the tenant may probably want to know whether you belong to an accreditation scheme, equally you will want the tenant to confirm his identity and immigration status (through Right to Rent checks) credit history and employment status via a comprehensive tenant referencing check.
Make sure the tenant knows who is responsible for bills such as gas, water, electricity and council tax and that they understand how long the tenancy is for. Some people may want the security of a really long let so make sure that this is agreed at the outset as well.
In any case, the tenancy agreement should say how much notice must be given if you want to end the agreement. Landlords have a legal requirement to give a tenant the correct amount of notice – and vice-versa.
What other documents do I need?
Before the tenant moves in, a tenancy agreement should be signed by both you and your tenant(s).
Regardless of whether the property is furnished or unfurnished, don’t forget to produce an inventory – this will make things a lot easier if there is any dispute at the end of the tenancy. You should provide your tenant with:
- A copy of the annual Gas Safety Certificate
- A copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Details of where their deposit is being stored
- A copy of the Electrical Installation Condition Report
- A copy of the property Inventory and Schedule of Condition
Thankfully, we don’t know of any landlords today who are like Leonard Rossiter’s miserly Rigsby in the 70s TV sit-com Rising Damp, but it goes without saying that your tenant should pay the rent on time. Point out that failure to do so could cost them their accommodation – and let them know that lodgers or sub-letting (Rent to Rent) are not allowed unless you give express permission.
Unlike Rigsby, you won’t be able to walk into your tenant’s accommodation just whenever you want. So, make sure you give at least 24 hours’ notice before visiting the property.
From the outset, let them know where you stand on children, smoking, pets – and even things such as keeping a bike! After all, one man’s recreational pursuit can be another man’s torture!
If you want further advice on anything to do with renting a property, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Legislation can be a minefield, particularly if you are becoming a landlord for the first time and we’re always here to help.
Version Update History of the How to rent guide:
24 March 23 – Updated How to rent: the checklist for renting in England
21 July 2021 – added How to rent: easy read version
10 December 2020 – Updates COVID-19, Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 and Tenant Fees Act
31 May 2019 – the guide is updated following the Tenant Fees Act 2019
9 July 2018 – The title of the guide was amended to ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’.
26 June 2018 – Added updated guide to website
17 January 2018 – Removed reference to the ‘London Rental Standard’ in the renting ‘Direct from the landlord’ section.
1 February 2016 – Updated the How to Rent guide
1 October 2015 – Updated with the latest edition of this guide
25 September 2014 – Added updated guide.
11 June 2014 – Added information about Acrobat Reader download
10 June 2014 – How to Rent guide first published.