A leading property lawyer has criticised the government for sneaking out updates to the statutory How to Rent guide all tenants must be given when they move into a property.
Giles Peaker, who is a partner at leading property law firm Anthony Gold, says the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s ongoing habit of updating its online How to Rent guide without telling letting agents and property managers “really should not happen”.
His comments come following the 31st May update to the guide published by the MHCLG to reflect the tenant fees ban, which has subsequently been updated twice without any announcement.
These changes to the How to Rent guide have been minor including on the 3rd June to change a reference to NALS to Safeagent and a 29th July change to alter a reference to Shelter offering ‘advice’ not ‘help’.
But the government’s website still says 31st May despite the document it offers being a differently-dated document.
How to rent guide
“While the changes are relatively minor tweaks, they are changes nonetheless,” says Parker.
“And as the statutory requirement is for the tenant to be provided with the version of the guide current at the time, silent changes obviously present problems – how many landlords and agents will be using the original 31 May version without knowing it has since been changed?
“While I would imagine a court would give a certain leeway in the circumstances, should it be raised, this is not an issue that should have arisen in the first place. Please MHCLG, do not do this again.”
It is not the first time government updates to its How to Rent guide have attracted criticism. Last year two more serious updates to the caused howls of protest from some agents.