A new How to Rent guide was issued by the government a few days ago. Here’s a handy summary for landlords, letting agents and also tenants of some key updates and changes.

The How to Rent guide was first introduced in 2014. It was updated as recently as 2021 and has just been updated again for 2023.

Who does How to Rent apply to?

As letting professionals will know, the guide is aimed at tenants and landlords in the private rented sector who let property on an assured shorthold tenancy. It applies in England only.

The guide is intended to help all parties in the PRS understand their rights and responsibilities. It provides a checklist and detailed information on areas such as what to look out for before renting, what living in a rented home involves, what happens at the end of a tenancy and what to do if things go wrong.

Do you need to issue the new How to Rent guide?

Private landlords and/or letting agents are required to give tenants a copy of the latest version of How to Rent at the start of a new tenancy.

Some people might not realise that landlords or agents are also required to issue a copy when a tenancy is renewed IF the guide has been updated in the meantime. So existing tenants who are renewing their tenancies from now on must be given a copy of the new version.

How to Rent forms part of what is known as the prescribed information which must be served on tenants. An important thing to know here is that if tenants are not given a copy of How to Rent, or it cannot be shown that they have been, landlords can lose the right to repossess using Section 21 – at least as long as Section 21 exists of course.

What’s in the new How to Rent guide

Some of the changes to the guide in the latest edition take account of the changes in tenancy law which have been made since the last edition in 2021. Here’s a summary of the key differences from previous editions you need to know about:

* Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. New to the guide is a section stating that carbon monoxide alarms are now required in living rooms which have a fixed combustion appliance – a measure which was introduced in 2022. There must also be evidence that smoke and carbon monoxide are in working order at the start of the tenancy.

Here’s more information: New Rules On Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms

* Electrical inspections. Landlords must now have an EICR or Electrical Inspection Condition Report carried out at least every five years. This report shows the condition of the

property’s electrical installations. The electrical wiring, sockets, consumer unit (fuse box) and other fixed electrical parts in rented properties must be inspected and tested every five years, or more often if the inspector thinks it is necessary.

The landlord has to give a copy of the EICR to the tenant, and also to the local council if they request it. This measure was introduced during 2020 and 2021.

Here’s more information: New Mandatory Electrical Safety Checks

* Right to Rent. Changes to reflect new rules which were introduced in April 2022.

* Smart meters. There is now advice in the guide that tenants should consider having smart meters installed in their home. They are advised that they should let their landlord know and seek the landlord’s permission if the tenancy says it is required. It adds that landlords should not unreasonably prevent a tenant from having smart meters fitted.

* Tenants with disabilities. The latest edition says that landlords should consider requests for what are called reasonable adjustments from tenants who have a disability or long term condition. It says reasonable adjustments could include changes to the terms of tenancy or allowing adaptations or adjustments to the property or common parts of the building.

It says landlords and letting agents must respond to these requests in a reasonable timeframe. If they refuse a request to make these adjustments they must explain why.

Where to find copies of How to Rent 2023

Copies of How to Rent can be read and downloaded for issuing to tenants from the Gov.uk site here:

Guidance: How to rent

This guide is for people who are looking for a house or flat to rent.


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