Prescribed Information (How To Rent Guide) To Be provided
The next job for landlords in England is to provide “prescribed information” which should be given to a tenant at the time of granting a new tenancy and ultimately before a section 21 notice can be served in England.
Section 39 Deregulation Act 2015 inserts a new section 21B into the Housing Act 1988. This section gives ministers powers to require a landlord to provide information to a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy in England.
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 commence on 1 October 2015 and are the regulations for the purpose of section 21B.
The regulations only apply where an assured shorthold tenancy is granted for a dwelling-house in England on or after 1 October 2015 including a written renewal on or after that date. The regulations do not apply where an assured shorthold tenancy becomes a statutory periodic tenancy on or after 1 October 2015 where the original fixed term tenancy was granted before the 1 October 2015.
In most of the changes discussed in this series, there is a three year transition applying where all tenancies are caught (even those granted prior to 1 October 2015). However, the prescribed information is only ever required on a new tenancy and never needs to be supplied to an older tenancy even from 1 October 2018 onwards.
Regulation 3 requires the landlord or landlords agent to give the tenant under the AST the following information –
- the version of the document entitled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”, as published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, that has effect for the time being.
The information may be provided to the tenant—
- in hard copy; or
- where the tenant has notified the landlord, or agent, of an e-mail address at which the tenant is content to accept service of notices and other documents given under or in connection with the tenancy, by e-mail.
If the “how to rent” guide changes during the tenancy, the new version is not required to be provided 1.
Where a written renewal is done between the same landlord and tenant for substantially the same property, another copy of the “how to rent” guide only needs to be provided if the guide has changed since the previous tenancy and previous version supplied to the tenant. Therefore, if doing written renewals, landlords and agents will need to check and compare versions with what was given to the tenant previously and provide the new version if necessary.
It would appear that if the tenancy goes ‘statutory periodic’ at the end of the fixed term and the booklet has changed on that day, the updated one must be provided. Members using the Guild tenancy agreements don’t have to worry about this as our tenancies don’t go statutory periodic.
The legislation does not provide any time limit to supply the information. It simply says –
3.—(1) A landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England, or a person acting on behalf of such a landlord, must give the tenant under that tenancy the information mentioned in paragraph (2).
The ideal time is to serve the guide at the same time as granting the tenancy and that would appear to be the intention of the legislation. The requirement is that it be given “under that tenancy”.
Although there is no time limit, a section 21 notice may not be given at a time when the landlord is in breach of the requirement to give the information guide 2.
The “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent. All our tenancy agreements will have this document added to them ready for the 1st October so landlords and agents using our agreements will simply need to print all the pages.
Because of this additional information required along with the prescribed legal requirements, we will be adding to our tenancy a ‘checklist of documents’ which will list everything provided at the time of granting the tenancy and require the signature of all parties.
- Regulation 3(4) The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 ↩︎
- Section 21B(3) Housing Act 1988 ↩︎