The Government updated the How to Let guide to reflect recent changes to the private rental sector (PRS). With vital information for property investors, what headline changes must landlords be aware of?
Last week, the Government updated the How to Let guide for landlords renting out property in England. The comprehensive guide covers everything landlords need to know about letting property, including the legal requirements they must meet and the necessary measures and equipment they must have in place.
It’s worth noting that this guide does not cover leasehold properties, holiday lets, or resident landlords who let to lodgers.
The guide is broken down into different stages of the letting journey.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
The guide defines an AST, providing a useful checklist of the key legal responsibilities landlords take when entering this type of tenancy agreement.
Some of these responsibilities include:
- Making sure your tenant has the correct contact details for you or your agent, including an emergency telephone number
- Protecting tenancy deposits in a government-approved scheme
- Abiding by provisions set out in the Tenant Fees Act 2019
Before letting your property
The second section of the guide takes landlords through some factors they should consider before letting out their property. This includes whether using a letting agent is the best choice for you, ensuring you have the correct property licensing in place, and tax obligations.
Getting your property ready
This section of the guide details your obligations when it comes to the safety of the property, such as:
- Gas and electric appliances
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
- Energy efficiency
- Water safety
Again, there is a helpful checklist that will help property investors ensure they meet all the necessary safety measures before a tenant moves in.
Setting up your tenancy
Perhaps one of the most important sections, the guide has plenty of information about starting your tenancy. As well as another handy checklist, some highlighted points include:
- The tenancy agreement itself
- What to consider before making the agreement (for example, how long the tenancy will last, and who is responsible for bills)
- Legal requirements (for example, carrying out right to rent checks and protecting tenancy deposits)
- Landlord best practices (for example, reference checks and preparing and agreeing an inventory with tenants)
During a tenancy
In this section, the guide breaks down the landlord’s responsibilities during a tenancy agreement as well as what you must legally abide by. The tenant’s responsibilities are also outlined here.
At the end of a tenancy
When it comes to the end of a tenancy, there are different avenues that you may need to take, as detailed in the guide.
If the current tenant wants to remain in the property, you must decide whether you are happy to renew their tenancy, and if you’d like to increase the rent.
If you or your tenant decide to end the tenancy, the party in question must provide the other with the proper notice. The deposit must be returned, so long as the tenant has met the terms of their agreement, and you need to ensure that rent and bill payments are all up to date.
If things go wrong
There are a number of reasons why a tenancy agreement may not go as planned, such as issues at the property or financial troubles your tenant may be facing. The guide features a list of repercussions you could face should you fail to abide by the rules, and how this could impact your tenant.
Overall, this guide is useful as a central source of information for prospective and current landlords. It was disappointing that in the recent Spring Budget, the Chancellor clarified little in terms of the highly-anticipated legislation changes, such as the abolishment of Section 21 and new minimum EPC requirements. The updates made to this guide may only answer some questions, but it does come as some reassurance that work is happening behind the scenes to support landlords and the wider private rental sector as a whole.
You can access the full guide here.
How to Rent Guide
The Government also made some key changes to the How to Rent guide. As a reminder, private landlords must serve this guide to tenants at the start of any new tenancy or on renewal.
The guide has been updated to reflect legal changes, including:
- Carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in every room with a fixed fuel-burning appliance
- The requirement for EICRs (Electrical Installation Condition Reports) to be provided to tenants
The new version of the guide also contains further information regarding fitting smart metres and details on ensuring the property is suitable if a tenant is disabled.
You can access the full guides from the Government website, linked here.
29th March 2023