Download the Most Up-to-Date PDF Version of the "How to Rent Guide 2022" for Landlords
One of the first steps you must take before renting out a house in England is to provide the tenant with a copy of the most recent How to Rent Guide 2022 (last updated 21st July 2021), a booklet issued by the government that details a checklist for tenants when renting.
What exactly is the How to Rent guide?
The How to Rent guide is an online government document that provides current and prospective tenants with information about the rental process in England and Wales. It explains their rights and responsibilities as tenants, as well as landlords' legal obligations.
At the start of their tenancy, every landlord must ensure that their tenant(s) have received a copy of the How to Rent guide.
Which version of the How to Rent guide should I provide to my tenants?
On July 21, 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government released the most recent version of the How to Rent guide.
The following are the major changes to the 2020 How to Rent guide:
Fees for Tenants
- More information on deposit caps and deposit protection, including the maximum deposit amount of 5 weeks for annual rents under £50,000 and 6 weeks for those above that amount.
- New "permitted fees" section with a complete list of permitted and prohibited fees under the Tenant Fees Act.
- Tenant Fees Act specifies the limitations on default fees for late rent payments, which are capped at 3% above Bank of England base rates.
- Additional sentence to clarify that landlords and letting agents cannot rely on Section 21 notice if they have not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits.
Advice on Tenant Rights
- Inform the tenant that the landlord is the freeholder, leaseholder, or owner of the property, and that their mortgage lender (if they have one) has granted permission to let.
- Details on two types of right-to-rent checks: manual document-based checks and online checking through the Home Office.
- Tenants should be advised to check with their landlord or agent to see if they have signed a Code of Practice.
- Purchase of contents insurance is recommended.
- Encouragement to install a smart meter
- Emphasizing tenants' right to report landlords' refusal to fix unsafe repairs to Trading Standards.
- Explanation of a tenant's right to sue their landlord if the property is unfit for human habitation and the landlord refuses to make repairs.
- Rent Repayment Orders are now explained in a new section.
- More information on tenancy length, including a 6-month minimum stay and the option of weekly or monthly ASTs
- If a tenant is unhappy with their tenancy agreement, they should be advised that they can walk away from unfair terms without losing their holding deposit.
- Emphasizing that failure to report the need for repairs to landlords can result in a tenancy agreement violation.
Responsibilities of the Landlord
- Additional sentence emphasizing the requirement to have at least one smoke alarm installed on each floor.
- A new section on selective licensing schemes has been added.
- Explanation of the landlord's obligation to provide an address in England or Wales to accept written notice and rent is not legally due if the information is not provided.
- Details on the April 2020 requirement for all private rented properties to have an energy performance rating of E or higher.
- Additional information on the mandatory electrical inspections and EICRs, which will apply to new tenancies beginning in July 2020 and to all existing tenancies beginning in April 2021.
- Emphasizing the landlord's obligation to arrange for five-yearly electrical safety checks
- Particular emphasis is placed on the landlord's or agent's obligation to obtain permission to enter the property, in addition to providing 24 hours' notice.
- Specifics on a landlord's obligation to ensure that all products, fixtures, and fittings are safe and not subject to product recall, as well as that any blinds do not have looped cords and are child-safe.
Terminating a Lease
- Additional sentence regarding the landlord's obligation to obtain a court order in order to legally remove a tenant from their property.
- The correct period of notice, which varies depending on the type of tenancy and grounds for eviction, is emphasized.
- Tenants are advised to read and act on any notices served by their landlord as soon as possible, or to contact Shelter or Citizen's Advice if they are unsure what to do.
- Explanation of how tenants can terminate their tenancy and what to do if they wish to vacate the property sooner than agreed.
- Return instructions for all provided key sets
Can I send a copy of the How to Rent Guide to my tenant via email?
Although many people prefer a good old-fashioned printed copy of the How to Rent guide, it's probably easier for you to email a digital copy to those who have fully embraced new technology. It's also a good idea to give them a direct web link so they can always access the most up-to-date version.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government will not be printing hard copies of the How to Rent booklet, so if a tenant requests it, you will have to print it yourself.
Landlords already have a mountain of paperwork to deal with: tenancy agreements, gas safety certificates, electrical condition reports, and energy performance certificates, to name a few. However, just because the How to Rent guide is free to download does not mean it should be overlooked.
What if I don't distribute the How to Rent guide?
If you do not distribute the 2020 How to Rent booklet, you may find yourself in a lot of trouble. According to Section 21 Legislation for Landlords in England, if you haven't provided your tenant with the How to Rent guide, you won't be able to repossess your property (heaven forbid it gets to that stage) with a Section 21 notice.
To avoid potential problems, all landlords should provide their tenants with the most recent How to Rent guide at the start of any new tenancy. As an added precaution, have your tenant sign a release form confirming that they have received the most recent version.
More updates are expected in 2021, but the good news is that you are not required to provide a new copy of the document each time a new version is released during the tenancy.
At LettingaProperty.com, com, we send the How to Rent guide to your tenants on your behalf, so you don't have to. Discover more
The How to Rent guide also serves as a good landlord's checklist.
We are all aware that the requirement for landlords to provide prescribed information and associated legal documents when renting out a property is a complicated matter. So much so that some commentators believe there is a strong case to be made for simplification by either consolidating housing legislation now or reviewing the Law Commission's 2006 Report.
Who knows what will happen in 2021, but the point about the here-and-now - whether you're renting a house, apartment, or bedsit - is that everything must be in order. This includes:
- Ensure you have adequate landlord's insurance.
- Ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are operational.
- Assuring that the property has a current gas safety certificate, EICR, and EPC.
Also see: When is the best time of year to rent out a property?
While the tenant will most likely want to know if you are a member of an accreditation scheme, you will also want the tenant to confirm his identity, immigration status (via Right to Rent checks), credit history, and employment status via a comprehensive tenant referencing check.
Ascertain that the tenant understands who is responsible for bills such as gas, water, electricity, and council tax, as well as the duration of the tenancy. Some people may prefer the security of a long-term lease, so make this clear from the start.
In any case, the tenancy agreement should specify how much notice is required if you wish to terminate the agreement. Landlords are required by law to provide adequate notice to tenants – and vice versa.
What other documents do I require?
A tenancy agreement should be signed by both you and your tenant(s) before the tenant moves in.
Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished, make an inventory; this will make things much easier if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy. You should provide your tenant with the following items:
Thankfully, we don't know any landlords today who are like Leonard Rossiter's miserly Rigsby in the 1970s TV sitcom Rising Damp, but it goes without saying that your tenant should pay the rent on time. Point out that failure to do so may result in them losing their accommodation, and inform them that lodgers or sub-letting (Rent to Rent) are not permitted unless you give express permission.
Unlike Rigsby, you will not be able to walk into your tenant's home whenever you want. So, before visiting the property, please give at least 24 hours' notice.
Let them know where you stand on children, smoking, pets, and even things like keeping a bike. After all, one man's pastime can be another man's torment.
Please contact us if you require any additional information about renting a property. Legislation can be a minefield, especially if you're a first-time landlord, and we're always here to help.
The How to Rent Guide's Version Update History is as follows:
Updates COVID-19, Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, and Tenant Fees Act on December 10, 2020.
31 May 2019 - The guide has been updated in response to the Tenant Fees Act 2019. 9 July 2018 - The guide's title has been changed to 'How to rent: the checklist for renting in England.' 26 June 2018 - Updated guide added to website17 January 2018 - Removed reference to 'London Rental Standard' in renting 'Direct from the landlord' section 1 February 2016 - Revised the How to Rent guide1 October 2015 - Revised with the most recent edition of this guide25 September 2014 - Revised guide 11 June 2014 - Added information about downloading Acrobat Reader.
The first edition of the How to Rent guide was published on June 10, 2014.
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