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Landlord obligations in relation to the “How to Rent” booklet – an update

‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ – Updated Version

Further to our guidance on the new provisions that came into force in October 2015 regarding Section 21 notices (please see our guidance here) there has been a further update to the requirement for landlords to provide the ‘How To Rent’ booklet.

As you should be aware, private landlords are required to provide all tenants who are granted an assured shorthold tenancy, with a copy of the up-to-date Department for Communities and Local Government’s booklet entitled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”. An updated copy of the “How to Rent” booklet was published on 17 January 2018.

You must ensure that for all new assured shorthold tenancies and/or any assured shorthold ‘replacement tenancies’ granted on or after 17 January 2018 the updated copy of the “How to Rent” booklet is provided to your tenant(s). A ‘replacement tenancy’ for the purpose of the Deregulation Act 2015, is any tenancy agreement which has the same parties and property but has been altered in some way.

Failure to provide the updated ‘How to Rent’ booklet

If you fail to provide the tenants with the updated “How to Rent” booklet before serving your Section 21 notice, your notice will be invalid and you will be unable to rely on it.

How should the ‘How to Rent’ booklet be provided?

The updated version of the “How to Rent” booklet states that:

“The landlord must provide you with a copy of this guide: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England as a printed copy or, if you agree, via email as a PDF attachment.”

It is therefore important that you always provide tenant(s) with a printed copy of the “How to Rent” booklet unless it has been explicitly agreed with the tenant(s) that you may send it by e-mail as a PDF attachment.

You will note that sending the “How to Rent” booklet by website link will never be sufficient.

Although the Deregulation Act 2015 has always required landlords to provide the “How to Rent” booklet as a printed copy or if agreed by email as a PDF attachment, previous Government guidance suggested that it could instead be provided by a website link.

We are aware, that tenant lawyers are now seeking to use this as a way to defend proceedings taken by way of a Section 21 notice. Therefore, we recommend that if you have ever previously sent a copy of the “How to Rent” booklet by way of a website link, that you immediately provide all of these tenants with a printed copy of the updated “How to Rent” booklet, even if it is not a new or replacement tenancy, to avoid any arguments that your Section 21 notice is invalid.

Send new booklet to all tenant(s)?

If you are in any doubt about whether you have given the correct version or format of the “How to Rent” booklet you may wish to send an updated copy of the “How to Rent” booklet to all of your tenant(s) in hard copy format to avoid any arguments.

Please note that the requirements above still do not apply to Registered Providers of Social Housing.

For further information please contact the Property Disputes team.

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