Landlords In England Must Serve The “How To Rent” Guide To Tenants

How To Rent Guide

As part of “The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015”, private residential landlords in England are required to provide their tenants with a copy of the “How To Rent” Guide issued by the Government.

Failing to comply could impede on your ability to repossess your home with a Section 21 notice.

Here’s what you need to know about the “How To Rent” Guide and how to comply with the regulations…

I haven’t really spoken much about this, and rightly so, because it’s as boring as shit- and the whole thing is kinda’ pointless if you ask me. But what can ya’ do?

Despite my ‘blogging fingers’ being put to absolute waste with this subject matter, I feel I should say something, because it’s rather quite important that landlords be made aware of all their requirements, even the ones that are oh-so woefully pointless.

As part of the latest update to the Section 21 regulations for Landlords in England that rolled out on the 1st of October 2015, landlords are now required to serve their tenants with a “How to rent” booklet if they ever wish to serve a valid Section 21 Notice (possession notice).

If this all sounds foreign/confusing to you (which would be perfectly understandable), just realise that you need to hand over a ‘renting guide’ to your tenants’ at the beginning of a tenancy, along with all the other necessary documents that should be given to new tenants at the start of a tenancy.

How to rent: the checklist for renting in England

How to rent: the checklist for renting in England

So what do you need to do to comply?

Landlords in England (yes, just England) should serve a copy of the booklet to tenants’ at the beginning of new tenancies that start on or after October 2015.

You can download the latest copy from here from the Gov website.

Apparently some idiot someone out there believes a generic, flimsy booklet on renting will improve/help the lives of tenants, and not end up as lining for kitty litter trays. I personally admire the optimism.

The new Section 21 legislation can be read here, but I’ll copy/paste the bit specific to the “How to rent guide”:

Requirement for landlord to provide prescribed information
3.—

  • (1) A landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England, or a person acting on behalf of such a landlord, must give the tenant under that tenancy the information mentioned in paragraph (2).
  • (2) The information is the version of the document entitled “How to rent: the checklist for
    renting in England”, as published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, that
    has effect for the time being.
  • (3) The information may be provided to the tenant—

    • (a) in hard copy; or
    • (b) where the tenant has notified the landlord, or a person acting on behalf of the landlord, of
      an e-mail address at which the tenant is content to accept service of notices and other
      documents given under or in connection with the tenancy, by e-mail.
  • (4) Paragraph (1) does not require a landlord, or person acting on behalf of the landlord, who has
    provided the tenant with the document mentioned in paragraph (2) to supply a further copy of the
    document each time a different version of that document is published during the tenancy.
  • (5) This regulation does not apply—

    • (a) where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing; or
    • (b) where—
      • (i) the tenancy (“the new tenancy”) is a replacement tenancy;
      • (ii) the landlord, or a person acting on behalf of the landlord, provided the tenant with the document mentioned in paragraph (2) under an earlier tenancy; and
      • (iii) the version of the document provided to the tenant under the earlier tenancy is the same version as the version which is in effect on the first day of the new tenancy.
  • (6) In this regulation “replacement tenancy” has the same meaning as in section 21(7) of the Act.

In simple/normal/human terms…

  • Serve – you can serve a hardcopy (printed version) or email a digital version where the tenant has supplied an email address. The booklet should be served at the start of the tenancy.
  • Up-to-date – the booklet is likely to get updated over time, so it is important to serve the most up-to-date version available at the time of the start of the tenancy. However, you don’t need to keep providing a copy when new versions are released.
  • New tenancies – if a tenancy is renewed (e.g. new contracts signed with the same tenants) there is no need to serve a new copy of the booklet unless a new version has been released- that’s something you’ll need to check at the relevant time.

Do I need to provide my tenant with a new copy if the fixed term ends and rolls into a periodic tenancy?

When a tenancy rolls over into a periodic tenancy after the fixed term expires, it is technically a new tenancy. So on that basis, if a new guide is issued by the Government when a tenancy rolls into a periodic tenancy, the tenant should be provided with the latest version.

What if I don’t provide a copy?

From what I’m aware, serving the guide isn’t a legal requirement, so you won’t get prosecuted for not doing it (at the moment, although I can’t imagine it will ever get that serious). However, as said, it is part of the new Section 21 regulations, which means you won’t be able to repossess your property with a Section 21 notice without providing your tenant with the booklet. That’s serious shit which should not be taken lightly.

Being disqualified from serving a valid section 21 is going to make it extremely difficult (I’d say near impossible, actually) for landlords to efficiently repossess their property, unless the tenant is willing to surrender the tenancy without any fuss, or if the tenant breaches specific terms of the tenancy (e.g. falls into 2 months’ arrears), which will then allow the landlord to go down the Section 8 route and evict with grounds for possession (that’s really the last route you want to go down).

In short, it’s just better to serve the damn booklet at the beginning of the tenancy and follow all the other section 21 requirements, despite how oh-so pointless some of the requirements may seem.

Rent Guide Acknowledgement Form

In light of the introduction to the changes to the Section 21 legislation for Landlords in England, it is imperative landlords provide new tenants (and tenants that renew) an up-to-date version of the booklet.

In order to protect myself, I make my tenants sign an acknowledgement form, which confirms that they have been provided with an up-to-date version. You can download a copy by entering your name and email address below.

It has been argued that sending a copy by email leaves behind a digital footprint in the sentbox/outbox, but I prefer sending a hard-copy of the booklet and getting a signature confirmation. That’s just how I roll.









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25 Join the Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Steve 17th May, 2016 @ 20:54

Thank you, didn't even know about this!

1
Guest Avatar
Lesley 30th June, 2016 @ 12:19

Thank you for time and really good advice.

2
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Paul 1st November, 2016 @ 13:10

Can you clarify the part of 'to serve' the tenant with the how to rent guide. Midway down page 5 of how to rent guide it says the Landlord must provide you with a copy of this guide, that would imply a hard copy not an emailed link? I realise that the AST you are quoting from can be written to read 'anything' so which is right? The government booklet or the AST which can have any rules, within reason, written into it?

3
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 1st November, 2016 @ 16:31

@Paul,

From my understanding, you can either download the PDF and email it directly as an attachment (NOT a link) to the tenant, or print a physical copy and hand it to them.

Of course, with the email method, you have the benefit of a digital footprint.

4
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Vicki 3rd February, 2017 @ 12:32

I have tenants already on periodic tenancies and I didn't give them the booklet at the beginning. Do I need to ask them to sign new contracts or can I give it retrospectively and be able to issue a section 21 if needed later?

5
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Julian Moore 25th April, 2017 @ 15:19

Hello.
Where can I obtain a hard copy of this booklet, as I have a number of let properties, and downloading is not really viable option with the number of tenants I have.

Thank you JM

6
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eric 25th April, 2017 @ 15:56

The only way is to download it and then print out copies. Alternatively just email a copy to the tenants.

7
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Lisa 18th June, 2017 @ 00:09

I have a Tenant now on periodic and did not give them a "How to Rent" booklet, can I email them one now? Prior to serving a section 21 notice?

8
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C.W 18th June, 2017 @ 12:21

You can, but sending it just prior to serving a Section 21 almost seems pointless, in my honest opinion...

9
Guest Avatar
Simon Pambin 18th June, 2017 @ 20:53

The point is you can't serve a valid Section 21 without it these days (under most circumstances).

10
Guest Avatar
C.W 18th June, 2017 @ 23:25

But you're meant to serve it at the beginning. If the tenant disputes the notice (which I'm assuming is what the landlord is concerned about i.e. she wants to serve a valid notice) and it goes to court, the Judge will see that the landlord provided the booklet just before serving notice.

You think that will help?

Still seems pointless and it seems like it would do more harm than good. It's like doing a gas safe check on the day the tenant vacates.

11
Guest Avatar
Simon Pambin 19th June, 2017 @ 12:37

It'll help a lot more than not providing it at all:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/section/21B

There's nothing wrong with saying something like, "I intend to serve a Section 21 in the near future. Please find attached another copy of the How To Rent guide, which sets out your rights."

12
Guest Avatar
CLAIRE W 25th July, 2018 @ 20:56

Hi
Can you tell me if there was a different version of prescribed information required to be served prior to October 1st 2015.
My tenancy began in Feb 2014 and my landlord has now given me notice to vacate.
Today, I have been asked, by my local council housing team, to "provide a copy of the prescribed information which should have been served to you when the tenancy began".
I can't find anything in my files but really don't want to cause a problem for the landlord as he has been great during the whole of my tenancy.
Many thanks
Claire

13
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Simon Pambin 26th July, 2018 @ 08:13

Your housing team is trying to delay your eviction, in order to buy themselves some time. If you don't want to play along, you can always say that your landlord gave you a bunch of stuff at the start of your tenancy but you don't know where you put it and don't remember what it said.

14
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Emma Reilly 27th July, 2018 @ 01:59

Claire W - it isn't your fault that the Landlord failed to provide these though. By failing to they are liable to pay you a penalty AND the section 21 notice is invalid.

15
Guest Avatar
Debbie 15th August, 2018 @ 15:57

Hi can you help?
My landlords letting agency sent me a notice of intention to renew the AST 2 months before the renewal date. At that time I intended to renew so I signed it to say I intend to renew for a further 6 months. I then expected to receive a new AST to sign. I never received one and in the meantime I have decided not to renew. I believe this means I am now officially in a periodic tenancy and therefore I’ll give them 2 months notice to quit. They say - no my signed intention is enough, they don’t have to have a new AST signed and they can hold me to it now for a further 6 months? Surely this is not correct?

16
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Janet 1st October, 2018 @ 13:17

My tenant's 1 year tenancy started in March 2015. It has been a rolling tenancy ever since. Would it be best to give him the Right to Rent book now or wait until just prior to serving a Section 21 notice in the future.

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Lady John 5th November, 2018 @ 16:33

So if your tenants predate October 2015 you don't need to give them a copy? Or should you even though it's not the start of their tenancy?

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RAymond Flynn 7th February, 2019 @ 13:18

Where do i get a hard copy of the how to rent bookleg

19
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 7th February, 2019 @ 14:11

@RAymond Flynn,

I don't think you can. I believe you either have to print your own hard copy, or just email a digital version...

20
Guest Avatar
Sharon G 21st February, 2019 @ 17:16

Hi, I let a property in Dec 2011. I issued a section 21 at the time and sadly, now need to proceed to court action through the accelerated procedure. I understood that the 'How to Rent' Checklist was only required to be provided after Oct 2015 but the court papers are asking when I issued one. Is this a requirement even though the lease date was before Oct 2015?

Any help would be appreciated

21
Guest Avatar
James 6th December, 2019 @ 18:27

Hi all,

Got a good one!

I am currently dealing with a rogue lettings agency with a long list of contract breaches and changes etc in just 3 months of the contract starting.

The latest laughable issue is me asking in writing for both the landlord's contact address to serve notices to and also all the documents required at the start of a tenancy (giving them a chance as I knew they would mess up again).

The required 21 days passed and to no surprise, there was absolutely no reply.

As I informed the lettings agency (who is currently listed as a dormant company since 2016 by the way but manages over 600 properties im told by their own manger) I will be taking them to court and they issued me a section 21 notice with 1 months notice.

I politely stated that this notice is invalid and I will not be leaving as you have not provided me with the proper documents. They then forward me an email with supposedly all the "Prescribed Information" required.

I again politely pointed out to the agency that while I see you have sent me the correct deposit protection information, you have not sent me the "How To Rent" booklet supplied and required by the government and I actually sent the agency a copy I had downloaded.

Two days later (I assume after getting clarification on this) the lettings agent sent back the "How To Rent" Booklet and issued me a new section 21 notice with 2 months this time and straight after they sent the booklet?! Literally seconds after I received the booklet.

This has all been done in the first 3 months of the tenancy by the way and by my research, you can not issue a section 21 in the first 4 months of the contract anyway.

I believe the section 21 is unenforceable because:

- the proper documents were not sent to me
- they then issued me the correct documents and instantly sent a new section 21 notice
- the section 21 notice is within the first 4 months of the tenancy

Would I be correct in thinking this and maybe have the upper hand in court?

22
Guest Avatar
kev levins 8th November, 2021 @ 16:43

i have a problem tenant, he is 3 months in rent arrears, he very rarely answers texts which i can prove. i had to post by myself through is letter box, the [how to rent document] how do i stand with this. all my certificates are up to date, gas electric etc etc. i am about to evict.

23
Guest Avatar
Zoe 15th November, 2021 @ 10:07

Hi

I need to evict my tenant as I need to sell my property due to a marriage breakdown. For the life of me can not remember if I handed over a copy of this guide to my tenant. They have lived in the house from 2017 and have only ever signed one tenancy agreement. In all that time I think he has paid his rent on time 5 times. Thankfully he's not in arrears, but I still need to pay the mortgage on the property each month.
My question is if I sent him a copy of the guide now can I issue him with notice straight away or do I have to wait a period of time?
Thank you
Zoe

24
Guest Avatar
Tracy Henry 9th March, 2022 @ 17:46

Can you send an upto date how to rent guide even if they’ve rented since 2016

25
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