You’ve probably heard of the Government’s How to Rent guide – but did you know that you are legally required to give it to tenants when they move in?
The guide was created to educate tenants and inform them of their rights. It includes checklists, one of which is about what to look for in your letting agent and the accreditation they should have, such as ARLA Propertymark. The guide is also updated from time to time to make sure tenants have all the facts they need to make an informed decision when renting.
So, why is this important? Well, it's really a matter of compliance. As a landlord, if you find yourself in a situation where your tenants are withholding rent and you are forced to go to court, it is your responsibility to prove you gave those tenants either a physical or digital copy of the How to Rent guide. If you can’t, your claim is likely to be unsuccessful. This can lead to thousands of pounds wasted in aborted possession claims and excessive delays in recovering your property.
This may seem like an insignificant detail but in the last 12 months a third of all landlords had rent arrears - a statistic that will only increase as rents continue to rise faster than salaries. Not only must you make sure that you give your tenants the most up to date version guide, you must be able to prove the fact. Even if you follow the exact letter of the law, you can still end up vulnerable - the burden of proof is on you, not your tenant. A read receipt or confirmation of receipt is required if you send it digitally, while a photograph of the guide having been signed by the tenants will suffice for a physical copy.
It’s so easy to get caught out, which is why leading online letting agents such as Upad now offer free Tenancy Compliance Service which ensures proof is obtained when the tenancy begins. This small action can save you thousands of pounds and allow you to use Section 21 when you need to - if you fail to provide the proof that you have done it, getting your property back could be next to impossible.