What do landlords need to know about the How to Rent guide?

Landlords speaking to prospective tenants

As a landlord with a property in England, you’ll need to give new tenants a copy of the government’s How to Rent guide when they move in.

Find out more about what you need to do, what’s included in the guide, and how it can help tenants.

What is the How to Rent guide?

The government How to Rent guide helps tenants understand how the rental process works and what to look out for when they find a property.

It also gives landlords and tenants a summary of their rights and responsibilities.

As a landlord, you’ll need to give tenants a copy of this guide at the start of a new tenancy alongside the ‘prescribed information’, which confirms the key details of the deposit.

How to Rent – the checklist for renting in England

The How to Rent guide is set out as a checklist, giving tenants an overview of all the things they need to know before moving into a rental property.

It starts off by asking questions around letting agent fees, security deposits, and Right to Rent.

The How to Rent checklist then runs renters through all the things they need to check ahead of their tenancy, including:

Our pre-tenancy checklist gives you an in-depth overview of all the things you need to do before a tenancy.

What else does it include?

The guide outlines a tenant’s responsibilities, including:

  • paying rent and any other bills on time
  • looking after the property
  • not taking in lodgers

It also explains some of the things tenants should do, such as testing smoke alarms regularly, reporting repairs to the landlord quickly, and getting contents insurance.

There’s an outline of landlords’ key responsibilities, including:

The guide suggests landlords should get buildings insurance, check the property’s fixtures and fittings regularly, and make sure blind cords are safe by design.

The final sections focus on what happens at the end of the tenancy and what to do if things go wrong.

Tenant moving out of property

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Where can you find it?

The How to Rent guide is available on the government website. From there, you can read it as a web page or download a PDF version.

There’s also an ‘easy read’ version to help landlords and tenants with learning disabilities to understand their rights and responsibilities.

When was it last updated?

The How to Rent guide is updated regularly to reflect new regulations.

It was most recently updated in October 2023 to include information for tenants on the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service (HLPAS).

This new service offers free legal aid, support, and advice to renters who have been served an eviction notice.

Landlords must make sure they give tenants the latest version of the guide.

What do landlords need to do with the How to Rent guide?

When new tenants move into your property, you’ll need to give them a copy of the latest How to Rent guide.

You can email them a link to the PDF version. However, if a tenant asks for a hard copy, you’ll need to print it off and give it to them.

It’s not uncommon for landlords to ask tenants to sign to confirm that they’ve received the guide, so it’s recorded in writing.

You’ll also need to check regularly to make sure you’re issuing the latest version of the guide.

What happens if you don’t follow these rules?

The How to Rent guide is served alongside the ‘prescribed information’ when new tenants move in. At this point, you’ll also need to give tenants copies of key documents such as the annual gas safety certificate and the Energy Performance Certificate.

If you don’t issue an up-to-date version of the How to Rent guide at the start of the tenancy, you may have trouble evicting tenants in the future.

A legislation update in 2015 means that Section 21 eviction notices are invalid unless the latest version of the guide has been given to tenants.

This means that if you issue a tenant with the How to Rent guide 2020 and serve them with a Section 21 notice in the future, you won’t be able to evict them legally.

If the guide is updated during the tenancy, you don’t need to give tenants a new copy. What’s more, if a new tenancy replaces an old one (for example the tenant renews), you won’t need to provide another copy of the guide.

What are the benefits of the How to Rent guide for tenants?

For inexperienced tenants, the How to Rent government guide explains the rental process in a simple, easy-to-read way. There are several benefits for renters, including:

  • helping them understand their responsibilities, such as paying rent on time and looking after the property
  • giving them details of your responsibilities, such as solving maintenance issues, which helps everyone know where they stand
  • helping them understand what happens at the end of the tenancy so the renewal or move out process can be as smooth as possible

How does the How to Rent guide help landlords?

The How to Rent guide may seem like another piece of paperwork for you to think about. However, it has some benefits for landlords, such as:

  • helping you keep on top of the latest legislation and what you need to do to remain compliant
  • allowing you to legally retain possession of your property using a Section 21 notice
  • educating tenants about the renting process, which could improve relations and reduce queries

Is there anything else you want to know about the How to Rent guide? Let us know in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

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