Did you know how many documents you have to be serve on a tenant. These must be served before they move in.
There are now so many documents that you must serve on the tenant before they move in. These documents give them information regarding deposits and how to rent a property. We recently attended at court and were informed by the court. That they must have all the information that the Government now need when dealing with a Possession Order. We often get asked by landlords for advice. We find many tenants do not understand the process. The idea of providing these documents is to give them an understanding of the law.
The documents that you need to now provide for a tenant moving in or as follows: –
How to Rent Guide
There is a How to Rent Guide that is now provided by the Government. You need to supply this to tenants before they move in. You also need to do this when a tenant goes onto a month-to-month basis. Without this being served and acknowledged by the tenants you cannot evict them. The new Rent Guide is updated on various occasions and the current one was done on the 1st June 2019. It is thus important that you have the right documents. For instance, it is almost a check list for tenants of what they should do and has the following:-
Assured Shorthold Tenancies
It details in the document what an assured short hold tenancy is. Outlines what the important rights are for tenants. Any questions that they need to ask at such a tenancy agreement. Advises them to read their documents through and the contracts carefully and not to make a quick decision. It gives them a checklist of what they must go through. It gives them the full details of their full rights. The guide is for people dealing on assured short hold tenancies.
It tells the tenant how to deal with either a landlord or letting agent and what questions are asked such as follows:-
- Firstly, is the landlord/letting agent trying to charge you a fee. Fees are now banned.
- It states how long a tenancy can be either between six or seven years.
- Outlines whether you think that you can afford it. It suggests that 35% of your take home pay is the most that people should be able to afford.
- It asks whether you are entitled to housing benefit or universal credit. Giving an online calculator on how to check this out and whether you can make a claim.
- It asks whether you would like to live in a certain area.
- How you are going to look for your home.
- It asks if you have your documents ready including immigration status. As you must have the right to rent again please see our previous article on this.
- It asks in more detail what the right to rent. Giving a link for people to check on whether they have the right documents.
- It asks whether there is a Rent Guarantee. We obviously ask for guarantors for all of our tenants, but the document outlines what payments should be.
- It then details the way how to rent a property.
- Lastly, when you are dealing directly with a landlord and asks whether they are accredited. It may be a local authority. They may be a member of the National Landlords Association. They may be part of residential landlord Association. Outlining what typical sources of scams there are and gives links to various associations.
How to let through a letting agent. Details of what is now included within the fee ban. Specifically on this it outlines the following:-
- A Deposit cap is to check whether the tenancy is less than £50,000. It can only be five weeks deposit.
- Deposit protection. It outlines where the deposit is. It gives details of how to claim your deposit back.
- Length of tenancy. It states whether the tenancy is 6 month or 12-month agreements.
- Bills – it outlines various areas and confirmation of whether you can be charged bills
- It outlines details regarding fixtures and fittings and whether you have been given an inventory.
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – it outlines that these are now required obviously by law.
- Fitness for human habitation. This is a new bill, please see our article here on this.
- Housing in Multiple Occupation. A licence would have to be served on a tenant. Nobody can take the property without a licence being served.
It then outlines the paperwork that you would normally be served with documentation: –
- Tenancy agreement
- Inventory – it outlines a brief description of what an inventory is such as photographs and description of the property.
- Meter readings
- Contact details
- Copy of this guide
- Gas safety
- Deposit safety work
- Protection from Eviction
It now states that if the tenancy was started or renewed after the 1st October 2015. Your landlord cannot serve you with a Section 21 Notice unless they have provided you with these documents.
Living in your rented home
The guide gives details of what the tenants must do such as the following:-
- Pay the rent on time
- Pay the bills
- Look after the property
- Be considerate to neighbours
- Not to take on lodgers
- It outlines what a landlord must do such as:-
- Maintain the structure of the building
- Ensure the property is free from serious hazards
- Fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with all appliances using solid fuels
- Deal with any problems with water, gas and electricity
- Maintaining the appliances and furniture they supply
- Carry out any repairs reported
- Arrange an annual gas safety
- Give at least 24 hours’ notice for a visit
- Get a licence for the property
- Ensuring that the property has a correct minimum requirement EPC
- Lastly, noting that the landlord should insure the property
The guide also explains at the end of the tenancy what the tenants need to do. It is a checklist as follows: –
- Firstly, whether they wished to go onto a fixed term or rolling contract
- Secondly, whether the landlord wants to increase the price and if so what the landlord has to do
- Thirdly, how to give a legal notice
- How to deal with the return deposit
- To make sure that all of their rent is up to date.
- To make sure their bills are all paid
- Lastly, to make sure that the property is clean and all their items have been removed
It lists out a complaint’s procedure. How to deal with financial problems. What if the property is unsafe? How to report to local authorities. What the tenant can and can’t be charged on their deposit. It has various agencies for them to gain free advice.
The document is now very extensive.
The second document you need to serve on the tenant is the assured shorthold tenancy.
An Assured shorthold tenancy outlines the terms of the agreement between the parties such as the landlord and tenant. It gives the full address of the property, the term and how much the rent and deposit is. Laying out what the landlord can and cannot do in relation to his obligations such as repairs etc. Outlining how the deposit will be held together. What the landlord can deduct in respect of deposits. How to deal with this.
Our tenancy agreement has a substantial number of clauses contained within it. These are both for landlords and tenants to deal with every eventuality. It is a document that has been approved by Trading standards and our solicitors.
The assured shorthold tenancy is the most important document as it deals with everything between the parties.
What do I need to serve when it comes to the deposit?
There is a prescribed information relating to the tenants deposits.
This is one of the most important documents that you can give to a tenant. Each individual scheme has their own way of dealing with this. But all of them have the same conditions as to what should be supplied. We often find that when we take other properties over from letting agents that they don’t do this correctly.
The Prescribed information has the names of the tenant on the document. Also it has the landlord’s name. It has the details of exactly what the scheme is for. Where it is protected.
However, the one item that many letting agents do not add is the terms and conditions of each individual scheme itself. These often run into 19 to 20 pages. The prescribed information must be signed and acknowledged by the tenant. This must be done within 30 days of the tenant moving in. A tenant not signing it means they have not acknowledged it. They must acknowledge the document within 30 days. In the event the landlord does not they may have difficulty in regaining possession.
The law in this area has changed dramatically. When a tenant moves in you must supply a copy of the gas safety. This must be acknowledged by the tenant. The gas safety now must serve within 30 days of being carried out. It can be within 30 days of the date of the renewal date. There was a recent court case that stated if a gas safety is not carried out you cannot serve a notice to quit on the tenant. It is important that landlords understand that this requirement is critical. Therefore, you could be at danger if you have not done this.
Energy performance certificate
An Energy performance certificate must be served on the tenant. The EPC must be a minimum of D or E. It cannot be F or G. If it is an F or G the landlord must make improvements. The maximum they must pay out is £3,000.00. But they must show that they have done their best to improve the rating.
These are now compulsory. All landlords must have an EICR. You may wish to also consider a PAT test. This is a portable appliance test. These must be carried out every 5 years.
These are known as HMOs and are houses in multiple occupation. Every city has its own licencing. They are all very different. The tenant must have any licence scheme.
A recent court case stated if a landlord did not have a licence, they cannot rent their property out. If it was rented by the tenants. Then the landlords can be requested to return the money. In this case the landlord had to repay in full.
Brighton and Hove Council have specific licencing areas throughout the City. They now have a policy for three beds and above where planning and licences are required. It is important that you check or ask us for any advice.
Landlords need to be aware of their responsibilities. It is important as getting it wrong is catastrophic. It is now a minefield of paperwork.
Your tenant goes onto a month-to-month contract. Landlords do not understand they now have to serve the documents again. Yes, as soon as the tenants go onto a month to month you must re-serve the documents. If not, then again you cannot serve Notice to Quit on the tenant. We will be doing a separate article on this so please don’t hesitate to read this.
Lastly, we have previously written an article going into more detail on HMO’s please click here to read.
It is so important that landlords understand their responsibilities and the legality of letting property as we have recently taken over a property that a landlord had not done any of the correct paper work.
They had not carried out an energy performance certificate. When we carried this out it was found to be an F. You cannot rent a property at this level. The landlord therefore had to carry out improvements immediately to bring the grading up and this cost quite a substantial amount of money. It was then reserved on the tenant.
The deposit wasn’t registered.
Unfortunately, the deposit wasn’t registered. However, the landlord against our advice prior to serving the notice hadn’t bothered to register it. In this instance the landlord was in breach of the deposit regulations he was liable to a fine/compensation. What the landlord didn’t appreciate is that when the tenancy goes on a rolling basis and every anniversary thereafter he has carried out a technical breach. Ie that he should have reserved all the documentation to confirm it is on a rolling contract every 6 months.
He had not done so. The matter was referred to a solicitors who subsequently tried to make a claim for £16,500 against the landlord. We took the property over from the landlord and negotiated this down to a fine of £3,500. Unfortunately, the fine was still payable and given to the tenant and the release of the full deposit because you cannot rent the property without registering the deposit itself.
Also the landlord had also not carried out an EICR. An EICR was immediately carried out and remedial works done and served on the tenant but the tenant could also have him fined for this.
It is so important that landlords understand what their legal requirements are. Now and on going as more laws come in all the time. Finally, why not contact us for a free 30 minute consultation and a review of your paperwork to make sure you are legally compliant?
Do you have a property you want a valuation on? Why not contact us in this regard to discuss this. Please contact us on 01273 724000.