Landlords are under fire again today. This time for not giving renters enough information about their tenancies. In a new survey by the National Landlords Association, reported in Landlord Today, more than two thirds (67%) of tenants say they don’t get enough information about their rights and responsibilities. This is hard to believe. Landlords have to give new tenants a copy of the government’s How To Rent guide when they sign their rental agreement. If they don’t, they can’t use the section 21 (no fault) eviction procedure if they need to – although this may not be an option for much longer.
It would help landlords if the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) which issues the guide and updates it on a regular basis – could get new versions out in a timely manner. When the tenant fees ban came in on 1 June, a new version was released but the MHCLG didn’t update it until the last minute. This is important because the new form includes changes to form 6a. This stipulates that landlords and letting agents cannot use a Section 21 eviction procedure if they have taken a ‘prohibited payment’ from a tenant and it has not been refunded in full.
Any landlord signing a rental contract with a new tenant that week, could have been forgiven for not handing over the correct version of the guide but would still have found any Section 21 notice invalidated by using the wrong version.
That aside, despite an apparent lack of knowledge of the How to Rent guide, there is a positive message from the NLA survey. Most tenants have a good relationship with their landlords. More than two thirds (68%) say they have never had any cause for complaint. And another 12% say any complaints they do have are dealt with properly.
So the majority of landlords are clearly doing the right thing and most tenants are happy. If the landlord or agent has handed over the How to Rent guide at the outset of the tenancy, surely they have fulfilled their side of the bargain. Many do a lot more and spend time talking tenants through what they can expect.
But as several readers point out in Landlord Today, although it is important for tenants to know their rights and responsibilities, you can’t force people to read the small print.