In March this year the Government published a new 'How to Rent' guidance checklist.
The How to Rent Guide was first introduced in 2018 (by the Deregulation Act 2015), making it compulsory for landlords of residential property to provide their new tenant with a copy in advance of entering into a lease.
The Guide is a helpful checklist for tenants to better understand the meaning and implications of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST); their rights; and the landlord's rights to bring the tenancy to an end.
The 2015 legislation bringing the How to Rent Guide into law made it obligatory for a landlord or their agent to serve the Guide. Failure to do so before serving a notice requiring possession under Sections 21 (widely referred to as a Section 21 Notice), will render any Section 21 Notice void.
It is not uncommon for landlords of residential property let under Assured Shorthold Tenancies to be oblivious of the existence and expectations of serving a How to Rent Guide.
Often my team and I are engaged at the point when a landlord has served a Section 21 Notice, has patiently sat through the minimum 2-month period set out on the Notice, only to then be advised by us that their Section 21 Notice is invalid for reason of their failure to provide this key document. That prevents a claim being issued, and a further 2 months delay.
Although it is added expense, there is genuine benefit in a landlord not wasting 2 months waiting for an invalid Section 21 Notice to expire, by taking legal advice at the earlier stage when a decision to serve notice is made.
Provision of a How to Rent Guide is not the only compliance issue facing residential landlords. My team and I can add value to the process and avoid landlords in unnecessary delays by ensuring compliance at the outset; preparing and serving a valid Section 21 Notice; and being ready to file a claim form once the notice period has expired.