As a landlord, you are required to provide your tenants with a ‘How to Rent’ guide. However, a warning has come from law firm Furley Page, stating that many landlords are failing to comply with such rules governing Section 21 notices introduced on 1st October 2015.
Granting a new tenancy or the renewal of one without providing this information could cause complications later on if a landlord needs to evict a tenant. Non-compliance voids a landlord’s right to use a Section 21 notice, therefore those caught out face the possibility of costly legal fees, which could otherwise have been avoided.
From the outset, landlords must provide the original tenancy with a current copy of ‘How to Rent: A checklist for renting in England’. This can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website, and provided to the tenant as either a printed or PDF version. Providing them with both would be helpful to the tenant, but sending it as an email can provide you proof that you did in fact give them a copy. Just make sure that you use their up-to-date email address.
Sarah Woolnough, a charted legal executive at Gurley Page, has commented: “Many landlords are failing to comply with the requirements of the new rules simply because they are not providing tenants with the correct information at the right time.
“For example, any landlord that fails to provide tenants with a copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ leaflet are now in breach of the regulations, meaning they can’t issue a Section 21 Notice to reclaim possession of their property.
“Thousands of landlords are incurring sizeable and unnecessary legal expenses when tenants challenge their eviction notice through the courts.”
As well as ensuring that tenants have received their copy of the guide, landlords must also provide a gas safety certificate each year of the tenancy, and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) at the beginning of the tenancy. The only exception to the latter is if it is for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The Gov website clearly states that a tenant cannot be evicted until these have been provided.
Woolnough also added: “If landlords have not carried out all of the requirements, they are barred from serving a Section 21 Notice under the new rules. This means that unless their tenant is in breach of the terms of the tenancy, the landlord will not be able to evict the tenant and take back possession of their property.
“After a Section 21 has expired, it is too late for the requirements to be remedied, and the landlord must either start the termination process again, which can take many months, or take their chances in Court.
“My advice to landlords is always to ensure that all the requirements have been met prior to serving a Section 21, and to retain proof in the event of a legal challenge by the tenant.”