If you’re a private sector landlord in England, you’ll know that you need to issue your tenants with a copy of the latest How to Rent Guide. If you fail to do so, you lose the right to repossess your property using section 21.
This is one reason it’s important to know that the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will publish a new copy of the guide in October 2023. When the new guide is available, you must give tenants a copy at the start of a new tenancy or at renewal.
What is the How to Rent Guide?
The How to Rent Guide is published by the government. It’s essentially a checklist that outlines both tenants’ and landlords’ responsibilities. It also contains information on things like permitted fees, licensing requirements, protection from eviction and rent repayment orders.
When can I get a copy of the new guide?
The updated How to Rent Guide is going to be published on 2nd October 2023. You’ll be able to download it here.
What’s different about the new How to Rent Guide?
The new How to Rent Guide will contain information about the new Housing Loss Prevention Service (HLPS). This scheme gives tenants free legal advice on housing, debt and benefits to people at risk of eviction. It also gives tenants free emergency advice and representation in court if they are subject to a possession hearing.
HPLS is highly controversial as landlords believe they’re more likely to become subject to prolonged legal battles if they need to evict a tenant. Given that the cost of a one-day trial can be in the region of £15,000, many landlords may think twice before starting eviction proceedings.
Protecting your Section 21 rights
Given that the Renters Reform Bill still hasn’t passed through parliament, landlords still have the right to serve ‘no fault’ Section 21 eviction notices.
However, to retain this right, landlords need to be careful and pay attention to detail. As we said earlier, if you don’t give a new or renewing tenant a copy of the latest How to Rent Guide, you lose the right to use Section 21. Similarly, if you fail to give tenants a copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate or Gas Safety Certificate (if gas is installed), you’re not allowed to serve a Section 21 notice.
There are also other circumstances that prevent you from using Section 21. You can’t use a Section 21 notice if:
- It’s less than 4 months since the tenancy began or the fixed term hasn’t ended (unless there’s a clause in the contract that lets you)
- The property is an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
- You haven’t put the tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme (for tenancies beginning after April 2007)
- The tenancy began after October 2015 and you haven’t used form 6a or a letter containing the same information
- The local authority has served an improvement notice on the property in the last six months
- The local authority has served a notice in the last six months to state it will do emergency works on the property
- You’ve not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits under the terms of the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Put the How to Rent Guide publication date in your diary!
As we’ve seen, it’s absolutely essential that you give your tenants the most up to date version of the How to Rent Guide. We’d suggest putting 2nd October in your diary. That way you’ll remember to download the new version of the guide and delete any old ones you may have.
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.