An updated version of the government’s How to Rent guidance was released in January this year.
This is the booklet that landlords must issue to tenants at the start of rental agreements created after October 1 2015. If you don’t comply, you can’t serve a valid Section 21 notice.
The new form for Section 21 claims on the accelerated procedure now specifically includes a question about the date on which the How to Rent information was served and whether it was provided in paper or electronic format. Be sure to keep a note of these details and proof that you supplied it, for example, take a copy or make a checklist that is signed and dated by the tenant.
I’ll discuss the accelerated procedure possession claim form in more detail next month.
You don’t need to re-serve the How to Rent booklet each time the government updates it, but if you renew the tenancy, you should issue a copy of the latest guidance with it, assuming it has changed since the last one you provided.
If your rental agreement has become statutory periodic since you served the initial information, this is deemed in law to be a ‘new tenancy,’ so if there is an updated version of How to Rent available, strictly speaking, you should give it to your tenant at the end of the fixed term.
I’m aware this is yet more paperwork to add to an increasing burden on landlords. In my view, the risk is quite small that a tenant will pick up on this technicality and use it to argue the Section 21 notice is invalid.
A saving grace is that there is no deadline for serving How to Rent, so if you didn’t issue it at the start of the tenancy, you can still serve a valid section 21 notice as long as you provide the How to Rent booklet first.
One way to cut down on administration is, therefore, to wait until you need to serve a Section 21 notice on your tenant and at that point (if the agreement has become statutory periodic), make sure you have provided the latest version of How to Rent.
You can view the current How to Rent guidance here.
Sarah Coates-Madden is a specialist in property litigation at Taylor&Emmet. For more information, telephone (0114) 218 4295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.