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What you need to know about the “How To Rent” Guide

About the 'How to Rent' guide

As part of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015, private residential landlords in England are required to provide their tenants with a copy of the how to rent guide issued by the Government. This guide provides important information on the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants during the tenancy.

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1. The 'how to rent guide' is a booklet that landlords must give to their tenants at the start of the tenancy.

2. The guide contains information on how to rent safely and responsibly, including how to keep the property in good condition and how to get repairs carried out.

3. Landlords who fail to give their tenants the how to rent guide may be liable for damages if the tenant suffers any losses as a result.

4. The how to rent guide is available from the government website.

5. Tenants should read the how to rent guide before they sign any tenancy agreement.

6. The how to rent guide contains useful advice on what to do if there are problems with the property or the landlord.

7. tenants can use the how to rent guide to help them negotiate with their landlord about repairs or other tenancy issues.

8. The how to rent guide is also useful for landlords, as it sets out their responsibilities under the law.

9. Landlords who do not follow the advice in the how to rent guide may be liable for criminal charges.

10. The how to rent guide is an important tool for both landlords and tenants, and should be used carefully to avoid any problems during the tenancy.

A few key areas covered include for example the rules on fees.

Landlords and letting agents are not allowed to charge most fees in connection with a tenancy. This includes fees for holding the property, viewing the property or setting up a tenancy agreement. The only exception is a charge to reserve a property, which must be refundable and can't exceed one week's rent. Viewing fees and tenancy set-up fees are not allowed. For more information on permitted fees, see below.

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Permitted fees

The only fee that landlords and letting agents are allowed to charge is a refundable reservation fee, which can't exceed one week's rent. This fee is to reserve the property while references are being checked. It's important to note that this fee must be refunded if the tenancy doesn't go ahead for any reason.

Other than the refundable reservation fee, landlords and letting agents are not allowed to charge any other fees in connection with a tenancy. This includes things like:

Viewing fees

Tenancy set-up fees

Administration fees

Reference check fees

Credit check fees

Renewal fees

Check-out fees

If you're asked to pay any of the above fees, you should contact your local council's Trading Standards team.

Enforcing the ban on unfair fees

Local councils are responsible for enforcing the ban on unfair fees. If you believe you've been charged an unfair fee, you can make a complaint to your local council.

You can also take action against the landlord or letting agent by:

Withholding rent until the unfair fee is repaid

Making a claim in the small claims court

Taking action through the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)

Before taking any of the above actions, it's advisable to get advice from a housing advisor. They'll be able to tell you what's likely to work in your particular case.

Another significant area relates to Deposits.

As of 1 June 2019, there is a deposit limit in place for all new tenancies. If the total annual rent is less than £50,000, the maximum deposit that can be charged is 5 weeks' rent. For tenancy agreements with an annual rent of £50,000 or above, the maximum deposit is 6 weeks' rent.

This change applies to all new tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 June 2019, regardless of when the actual tenancy starts. For example, if you sign a tenancy agreement on 2 June 2019 for a property with an annual rent of £48,000, the landlord can only charge a deposit of up to 5 weeks' rent (5 x £48,000 = £2,400).

If you're not sure how much your landlord is allowed to charge as a deposit, you can check with your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They'll be able to advise you on your rights and options.

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