New 'How to rent' guide expected in October
With an update to the 'How to rent' guide expected in October 2023, here's why it's so important to your agency's and your landlords' lettings processes.
On 2 October 2023, the government is expected to update its How to rent guide. The update will cover the new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service, which offers tenants legal advice on housing and possessions.
The How to rent guide is designed to explain to tenants everything that they need to know about the private renting experience. Serving the guide to tenants is a key part of the lettings process - and it's essential to get it right, to stay compliant.
What is the How to rent guide?
The How to rent guide is for tenants that rent a property privately under an assured shorthold tenancy in England. They can rent either directly through a landlord or a letting agent.
The guide outlines everything from how to search for a new home and what they need to do once they've found one, through to their rights and responsibilities when living in the rented property and then how to end the tenancy.
When does the landlord or letting agent need to give the guide to the tenant?
The latest available version of the guide needs to be shared with the tenant when their new assured shorthold tenancy starts.
Does the guide need to be supplied on renewal or when transitioning to a periodic tenancy?
Landlords or agents won't need to provide the document again when the contract is renewed or moves to periodic, unless the guide has been updated since the contract originally started.
What happens if the How to rent guide is served to the tenant at the wrong time - or not at all?
If you want to evict a tenant with a section 21 notice, you'll need to have provided them with a How to rent guide. If you haven't done that, you won't be able to serve notice.
Similarly, you'll need to make sure that you've served it at the right time, which is before the tenants have moved in.
If your applicants don't receive the document before their new tenancy starts, this could potentially invalidate the section 21 notice to evict your tenant. However, issuing a section 8 notice will be unaffected by the How to rent guide process.
What can agents and landlords do to make sure that they stay compliant with the How to rent guide requirements?
Make sure that you check the government's site to see when the latest version of the guide was issued. The page has a log of any updates made to the document, so you can check if anything has changed since you issued the tenancy, particularly for a tenancy renewal.
To avoid any mistakes, you can also directly take the latest version from the government's site to share at the start of each tenancy too.
You'll also need to make sure that you keep an audit trail of what your tenants have received. You can ask them to sign a document to confirm, and keep track of any email communications.
Some lettings platforms, like Goodlord, automatically update the How to rent guide for agents, so each tenancy is compliant. You can read more about how Goodlord helps agents stay compliant on our site.
This article is intended as a guide only, and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, visit gov.uk.