How to rent guide published

The government has issued an updated 'How to rent' guide for renting in England (note that renting in Wales is now a different regime). This guide is for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. It provides a checklist and more detailed information on each stage of the process, including:

  • what to look out for before renting
  • living in a rented home
  • what happens at the end of a tenancy
  • what to do if things go wrong.

The version issued on 24 March 2023 is the most up to date version of the guide.

The landlord or the letting agent should give the current version of the guide to the tenant when a new assured shorthold tenancy starts. There is no requirement for them to provide the document again if the assured shorthold tenancy is renewed unless the document has been updated. The guide does not cover lodgers (people who live with their landlord) or people with licences (such as many property guardians – see this specific guidance on property guardians) – nor tenants where the property is not their main or only home.

The guidance contains a lot of information and includes a list of items that the landlord must provide to the tenant:

  • A copy of the guide, 'How to rent: the checklist for renting in England', either as a hard copy or, with the agreement, via email as a PDF attachment.

  • A gas safety certificate before the property is occupied. The landlord must also give the tenant a copy of the new certificate after each annual gas safety check, if there is a gas installation or appliance.

  • Deposit paperwork. If the tenant provides a deposit, the landlord must protect it in a government-approved scheme within 30 days and give the tenant prescribed information about it.

  • The energy performance certificate (EPC), which contains the energy performance rating of the property, free of charge at the onset of the tenancy. As of April 2020, all privately rented properties must have an energy performance rating of E or above (unless a valid exemption applies) before being let out.

  • A report that shows the condition of the property's electrical installations. The landlord also has to give this to the local council if they ask for it. The electrical wiring, sockets, consumer units (fuse boxes) and other fixed electrical parts in rented homes must be inspected and tested every five years, or more often if the inspector thinks necessary. Throughout the whole time a tenant is living at the property, national electrical safety standards must be met.

  • Evidence that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy. Tenants should then regularly check they are working.

Private renting can be a complex area for landlords and tenants. The landscape may change again if the government makes good on its promise to end so-called 'no fault' section 21 evictions. Both parties may be well advised to take specialist legal advice before letting out or renting a property. The pitfalls are many and varied.

To discuss this or any other landlord and tenant matter, contact us.

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