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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.
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.
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.
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.
The guide outlines a tenant’s responsibilities, including:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Is there anything else you want to know about the How to Rent guide? Let us know in the comments below.
Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.
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