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Landlord and Agent News - Updated “How to Rent - The Checklist for Renting in England” Booklet

Landlords and Agents will be aware that rules were brought in eight years ago, making it mandatory to provide a whole raft of information to tenants at the start of a new tenancy. This includes providing a copy of the most recent “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” booklet. The booklet is a government publication and advises tenants on the rental process, details their rights and responsibilities, as well as outlining what a landlord must do when letting out a property. In fact, the booklet can be a handy checklist for landlords and agents reminding them of the checks they need to carry out, such as having a valid gas safety certificate, electrical installation condition report, and so on.

A new version was published on 24 March 2023 and will be available from Gov.uk. It contains new information about:

  • the requirements for carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in every room with a fixed fuel burning appliance;
  • the fitting of smart meters;
  • ensuring properties are suitable for tenants with disabilities; and
  • the importance of providing tenants with Electrical Installation Condition Reports.

Serving the tenant with a copy of the latest version is one of the first steps to be taken before renting out a house or flat in England. The onus is on the landlord to keep up to date with the law and ensure the latest version is provided to the tenant at the start of a new tenancy. Whilst the booklet hasn’t changed for some time, it is important to stay up to date and the safest way to do that is by downloading the booklet direct from the gov.uk website. 

The 24 March update does however illustrate that even that isn’t necessarily fool proof. Having checked the relevant page just the day before, there wasn’t so much as a hint that things were about to change. Best practice is for landlords to issue the prescribed information before a tenancy completes but as the most recent update shows, if the prescribed information were issued just a day before, a landlord could fall foul of the requirements. This could easily be avoided if the government website simply included a note putting landlords on notice of any proposed updates on the relevant web page but don’t expect to see a change any time soon!

What are the Consequences of Getting it Wrong?

Issuing an old version will mean losing the right to repossess your property under a S21 Notice and will delay repossession unless and until the correct version has been served. To be on the safe side, it’s probably best to serve the version at the time the tenancy was put in place and the most recent version if this changed since the tenancy started.

The good news is that an updated version does not need to be served each time there is an update during a tenancy.

Be as Up-to-Date as You Possibly Can Be!

  • Landlords and agents should continue to download the booklet from the website rather than store local copies.
  • Subscribe for gov.uk emails about changes to the website booklet page. This will provide alerts when changes to the page are made although this is still unlikely to provide advance warning of changes.
  • Landlords who have issued the booklet in advance of the tenancy start date should do a follow-up check when a tenancy completes and issue any new version as soon as available. The tenant should be asked to provide written confirmation they have received the most recent version for evidential purposes.

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