A new How to Rent guide has been issued on the 24th of March, 2023, serving as an update to the last version which was published over two years ago during the Covid pandemic.
It is mandatory for Landlords to serve the latest version of the How to Rent Guide at the start of each new tenancy, so it’s extremely important that landlords are aware that a new guide is available, and what has been updated in it since its last release.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key changes of the March 2023 guide and what’s been updated;
Additions to “Things Your Landlord Must Provide You With”
The March 2023 version of the How to Rent Guide has added items to the list of things that a landlord must provide to their tenant. They now include;
“A report that shows the condition of the property’s electrical installations.” The guide states that landlords must provide the local council with this information if requested. It advises that electrical wiring, sockets, consumer units (fuse boxes) and other fixed electrical parts in rented homes must be inspected and tested every five years, or more and that national electrical safety standards must be met throughout the entire tenancy.
“Evidence that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy.” has also been added, with the advice that tenants themselves should regularly check these.
New Advice on Accessibility for Disabled Tenants
The new guide suggests to tenants that they should check the property’s suitability for their needs. They are advised that they can request reasonable adjustments, which can include “changes to the terms of your agreement, or home adaptations and adjustments to common parts of a building to make your home accessible to you.”
More Guidance on Smart Meters for Tenants
The new How to Rent guide expands on the last guides advice on tenants and smart meters, adding;
“If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, they should not unreasonably prevent it. Smart Energy GB has independent information about the benefits of smart meters for tenants and how to ask your supplier for the installation. If your landlord pays the energy bills, you can ask them to have smart meters installed.”
New Requirements Added to “Your Landlord Must” List
The new How to Rent guide states that a 5–yearly electrical safety check must be organised by the landlord. However, the new guide specifically states that it must be “by a qualified and competent person”.
The guide also states that Landlords must “Consider requests for reasonable adjustments from tenants who have a disability or long-term condition.” Landlords are also directed to respond to requests within a reasonable timeframe.
Changes to Advice for the End of a Fixed Period
The updated How to Rent guide now states “If your landlord has served you with a notice proposing a new rent, you can make an application to challenge the proposed rent in the tribunal.”
It has also added a segment of information for tenants who do not want to leave at the end of a notice period. It advises that the landlords need to apply for a court order to evict and discusses the subsequent procedures for bailiffs and warrant of possession. The guide also urges tenants to seek advice for support as early as possible and directs them to further information regarding their rights and responsibilities when a landlord wants them to leave their home.
Additions made to the “If Things Go Wrong” Section of the Guide
Under the section that discusses prohibited payments charged by landlords, the new guide states that “Tenants are also able to make an application to the tribunal to recover a prohibited payment, which can order a landlord or agent to repay a payment which has been charged unlawfully. The government’s guidance on the Tenant Fees Act contains more information.”
Changes to Sources of Information
The guide now lists Redress schemes as a source of help for tenants making a complaint about their letting agent.
It also advises that tenants contact the national organisation Foundations for advice and to help disabled people apply for funding to make adaptations to their home.
Tenants are advised to contact Smart Energy GB for help and advice on installing a smart meter and tips on energy efficiency.