Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Landlords face hefty fines for not providing ‘How to Rent’ guide to tenants

A number of buy-to-let landlords who failed to provide tenants with a copy of a ‘How to Rent’ guide – a checklist for renting in England, now face the prospect of unnecessary and costly legal battles when trying to evict tenants.

The warning comes from law firm Furley Page, who says many landlords are failing to comply with new rules governing Section 21 Notices introduced on 1 October 2015.

If a landlord gives a new tenancy or a replacement tenancy from October 1st 2015 onwards, they need to comply with the prescribed information requirements for the new Section 21 form.

As part of this, landlords must provide at the outset of the original tenancy an up to date version of the How to rent: A checklist for renting in England booklet, which you can download by clicking here.

You can either provide renters with a printed copy, or send a digital version of the pamphlet by email.

Sarah Woolnough, a chartered legal executive at Furley Page, explained: “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.”

Aside from provide the latest version of the government's How to Rent leaflet, it is important that, under the existing rules, landlords also provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for the property and the current gas safe certificate (if the property has gas supplied). Failure to comply with the requirements means a landlord is unable to issue a Section 21 Notice to take possession of the property.

Woolnough 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.”

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