The below is correct as of writing however as per all UK law's and government led initiatives, it is subject to change with no notice so please ensure you check the relevant pages on gov.uk before enacting upon the information given
From 1 October 2015: New requirements under the Housing Act 1988, referred to as The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015, come into force and are summed up as succinctly as I can below:
There is now a requirement for landlord to provide ‘Prescribed Information’ in relation to your rental property’s documentation and certification.
However, by calling it prescribed information, the government will no doubt have caused confusion because to most landlords ‘Prescribed Information’ refers to tenancy deposits AND it still does – the below is a different ‘Prescribed Information’ you are STILL required to give to your tenant 'Prescribed Information' in relation to deposits.
NB: Should you not follow the new regulations you cannot serve a VALID Section 21 Notice to your tenant.
The New (additional) Prescribed Information Is:
- A copy of a Valid Gas Certificate
- A copy of a Valid EPC
- A booklet written by the government called ‘How To Rent’ – Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent
NB: The new booklet states ‘That a copy of a Valid Electrical Certificate’ SHOULD be provided – you are still not ‘legally required’ to hand this over to the tenant but assuming you are crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s, I would suggest that you also provide a copy of your Electrical Certification IF you have one.
The new requirements as previously stated include a booklet which the government is not being providing in hard-copy to landlords, (only in printable PDF format) which means you will be required to print it – however you are allowed to provide it to your tenants by email should you wish.
The problem I foresee with providing the booklet via email, is that it is impossible to prove the tenant has received their copy. e.g. they could have given you an acquaintances email address claiming it was their own. The acquaintance opens it and deletes it before the tenant sees it! So even a read receipt does not prove that your tenant received the booklet – it just proves that they received the email in which the booklet is contained – and this no doubt will become a well-used excuse in court in the future.
With the above in mind I would always recommend you provide a physical copy and get it signed by the tenant, as part of your tenancy pack. Use a receipt form and get the tenant to sign that they have received the 3 required documents for this legislation.
The current regulation states that a landlord WILL NOT be able to legally serve a Section 21 Notice until the above has been provided to the tenant, therefore I also advise that you provide the booklet when you serve the Section 21 Notice – as this will then prevent any possible claims that the tenant didn’t receive the documentation
And at the moment it isn't 100% clear if you will need to provide future revisions to your tenants (e.g. when the booklet is updated) the general consensus is no, you won’t need to. But you will need to keep up to date with any changes to this legislation to ensure you don’t fall foul of any change which suddenly requests that you do provide your tenants with revisions.
I would also provide tenants with copies of the property’s certification upon every renewal of the certificate(s).
I just want to stress that as well as providing the new ‘Prescribed Information’ you are still REQUIRED to provide ‘Prescribed Information’ in regards to any deposit taken from a tenant. – sorry for repeating myself