Landlords could be stopped from going ahead with a no reason eviction because the government is failing to tell them when a statutory guide they must give to tenants is updated.
Housing law demands that landlords supply the latest copy of the How To Rent guide at the start of a tenancy.
If they don’t provide the guide, the landlord cannot ask a tenant to leave with a Section 21 no reason eviction.
But lawyers have spotted that the government is making changes to the guide without logging the amendments on the web site, so no one knows which version of the document is the latest.
The web site had said the last amendment was on May 31 but has just been updated to say 7 August 2019, so any landlord downloading a copy on that date to give to a tenant is passing on an out-of-date document.
The guide is clearly marked ‘May 2019’ but was updated on June 3 and July 29, says property lawyer Giles Peaker of Anthony Gold Solicitors.
The first change altered a link on page 5 from ‘NALS’ to ‘SafeAgent’, while the second amended the wording on page 4 from ‘If you don’t have a guarantor, you can ask Shelter for help.’ to ‘…for advice.’
“ This really should not happen. While the changes are relatively minor tweaks, they are changes nonetheless,” said Giles Peaker.
“And as the statutory requirement is for the tenant to be provided with the version of the guide current at the time, silent changes obviously present problems – how many landlords and agents will be using the original 31 May version without knowing it has since been changed?
“While I would imagine a court would give a certain leeway in the circumstances, should it be raised, this is not an issue that should have arisen in the first place.”
Our Tenancy Builder has been updated with the current version of the How to Rent Guide.
We put a new tenant in last week on the 5th Aug. The Guide was the May 19 version, so is this OK ?
The main problem is if a section 21 needed to be served. You could either send the latest one now and keep a record that it was sent or, flag the tenancy with some reminder that if you ever needed to serve section 21, you would send the current (at the time) how to rent guide before the 21. (Or you could do both)!
I wouldn’t rely on a judge exercising discretion, especially in favour of a landlord. This issue is clearly Government ineptitude – even an office junior should know about version control of published documents. We use a “receipt of documentation” page, whereby the tenant signs for every document they are given at the start of their tenancy. For the How to Rent Guide, I have recently added the qualifier “printed on from http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent. Launch page states last updated on ” I hope that this will suffice to prove that the current document has been served at the start of the tenancy. But I would also serve a new one with any repossession papers….just to cover all bases.