How to Rent Guide | Help For Tenants

A Simple and Easy to Read Guide to Help You With the Process of Renting a House or Flat

This guide aims to help tenants understand their rights and responsibilities when finding a home in the private rented sector.

What is the How To Rent Guide?

The How to Rent guide is a government resource available online that offers guidance to both current and potential tenants regarding the rental procedure in England and Wales. It explains their legal rights and obligations as tenants as well as the duties of landlords. This guide is for people who are renting a home privately under an assured shorthold tenancy, either direct from a landlord or through a letting agency.

It provides a checklist and detailed information regarding:

  • what to look out for before renting
  • living in a rented home
  • what happens at the end of a tenancy
  • what to do if things go wrong

A copy of the How to Rent booklet must be given to each tenant at the start of their tenancy, per the law. Serving a tenant with a copy of the latest How to Rent Guide booklet issued by the government detailing a checklist for tenants when renting, is one of the very first actions you must take before renting out a house in England.

For all new and replacement tenancies, landlords must have served tenants with the current How to Rent guide before a Section 21 notice can be served. If the booklet was previously served then there is no requirement to reserve the booklet unless it has been updated.

The latest version of the How to Rent guide was issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 10th December 2020.

How to Rent Guide

How to Rent Guide – Easy Read


For Rental Properties In Birmingham & The West Midlands

Tenant’s Guide To Letting

Finding a property agent who has detailed knowledge and experience in the property sector along with friendly and supportive customer service is often difficult to find.

When you do find that rarity it can often be a breath of fresh air. We offer a refreshing change to our competitors, as we continue to make letting through Midlandwide simple and hassle-free for our valued tenants.

The Tenant guide will provide you with the information you require to secure the right property, understand the tenancy agreement, inventory report, any relating documentation and your rights and obligations as a tenant, whether you’re letting a domestic or commercial property.

Finding & Securing a Property

Once you have viewed the property and wish to proceed further with letting it, you are expected to pay a holding deposit to show your commitment to letting the property and to withdraw the property from any further viewings. The property will be removed from the rental market for fourteen days whilst the agent begins preliminary searches/checks. The administration process of obtaining references and payment of the deposit is due during this period. Please be certain you are in a position to let the property as the holding deposit is non-refundable.


The Landlord will expect the potential tenant to be referenced and credit checked to ensure you are a suitable tenant and have the financial stability to afford the rent. It will be necessary to obtain previous occupation and rental history information. The agent will require a holding deposit as well as your formal approval by completing a tenancy application form to carry out the relevant searches and checks.

Please note; should the necessary checks prove to be unsatisfactory; the holding deposit is non-refundable. We advise you to be as accurate as possible when supplying information about you and always check with your letting agent if you are unsure about any aspect before making payment of fees.

Once the holding deposit, which is usually one week’s rent, is paid and searches are authorised the following documentation will be requested.

  • Proof of identification two forms: passport, driving licence, security I.D document., work I.D badge.
  • Proof of current address: An up-to-date utility bill or bank statement.
  • Reference from your current/previous landlord to verify responsible rental history.
  • Credit check: to verify the bill-paying history
  • Your bank details – including bank name, sort – code and account number
  • Details of employment – your employer’s name, job title and payroll number. National insurance number, employment contract details and salary information.
  • If you are self-employed: Three years of audited accounts will be required and an accountant’s reference and a trade reference. The information confirms your current ability to afford the rent and related outgoings.

In the event the information supplied by you poses a potential liability or risk to the Landlord, you may be asked to supply a guarantor. The guarantor is financially liable for any breach of your tenancy by you including non-payment of rent, utilities and damage to the property for the duration of your tenancy agreement.

The Deposit

This is five weeks’ rent and held for the duration of the tenancy. The deposit is to safeguard the landlord against the cost of repair/replacement of damage to the property or the landlord’s items. It is, however, the most disputed issue in the letting process which has been recognised by the government who have introduced new legislation, Amended the Housing Act 2004 in April 2007 to help protect both parties when returning/retaining deposits and to offer a mediation service if the need arises.

Tenancy Deposit protection scheme summary

  • Landlords and agents will be required to join a statutory deposit scheme if they take deposits; this means deposits will be safeguarded. The 3 tenancy deposit schemes are Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
  • Tenants will get all or part of their deposit back if they have kept the property in good condition after an inventory check and property inspection is carried out.
  • The scheme offers alternative ways of resolving disputes which aim to be cheaper and faster than legal action.


The Inventory schedule is one of the most important documents during your tenancy. This document is vital when deciding how much or any deposit is returned to you at the end of your tenancy. As a tenant, you are advised to read and understand this document as you are required to sign and initial each page.

The inventory process

The Inventory is usually prepared by the Landlord or letting agent. Once the inventory has been drawn up the tenant should have the opportunity to check the inventory against the property and should accompany the Landlord/agent, this takes place normally on the day of moving in. The state of items and the condition of the property is agreed upon during this visit. If amendments are required they are agreed upon on the day and the amended inventory is signed by mutual appointment within seven days. The inventory will also contain photographic/camcorder evidence therefore it is recommended that all documents and media are checked before agreeing and signing this document.

During your tenancy and moving out

Repairs and maintenance must be reported to your landlord or agent immediately depending on who is responsible. Failure to report repairs could result in further damage for which you could be held partially liable as earlier intervention could have prevented ongoing damage.

It is normal practice for your landlord or agent to schedule periodic inspections to ensure the property is being kept to a decent standard. The agent/landlord will also allow you to raise any issues you may have with the property.

If repairs or maintenance are needed the landlord/agent will instruct a contractor/representative to carry out the necessary work access should be allowed by the tenant. This will be pre-arranged unless in the case of an emergency. It is common to carry out a final inventory check-out the day you are scheduled to move out.

It is advisable to go through the inventory the day you move out as this avoids you becoming responsible for damage after vacation. If you have caused any damage during your tenancy these should be agreed on the day. The cost of repairs may have to be quoted by a specialist/tradesperson therefore a cost for remedial works will be provided within seven days.

If both parties are satisfied the property has been left in acceptable condition, all rent has been received and all utility bills paid. The deposit will be paid back to you in full within 10 days of you vacating the property.

Home Insurance

Tenants are advised when letting a property your goods/items may not be insured under the Landlords building/contents insurance. Therefore, it is important to take adequate steps to protect your contents and valuables by taking out contents’ insurance with a reputable insurance company.

Tenancy Agreement

This is a legal binding arrangement between the Landlord and you. This document sets out the rights and obligations of both parties to the agreement, for example, you have an obligation to pay the rent and the landlord in return gives you the right to enjoy and live in the property.

Assured/ Shorthold Tenancy Agreement:

  • you are a private tenant and your landlord is a private landlord;
  • the tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989;
  • the house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is your main home.

A tenancy will not be an assured or shorthold tenancy if:

  • the tenancy began before 15 January 1989;
  • it is a business or holiday let;
  • no rent or very low or very high rent is charged;
  • the landlord is a “resident landlord”

Assured and shorthold tenancies allow landlords to charge full market rent, unlike previous forms of tenancy. Shorthold tenancies also allow landlords to let their property for a short period only and to get it back if they wish after 6 months.

Changes in the 1996 Act mean that:

  • a new tenancy will automatically be a shorthold tenancy unless the landlord gives written notice that it will not be a shorthold tenancy;
  • the landlord has a right to possession if you owe at least 2 months or 8 weeks’ rent (rather than 3 months or 13 weeks’ rent);
  • it will be easier for the landlord to evict you if you cause a nuisance or annoyance to other neighbouring properties or persons;
  • if the landlord agrees to a new or replacement shorthold tenancy with you, you have a right to a statement of the main details of the tenancy agreement if he or she does not provide a written agreement.

Under changes in the 1996 Act, if you are a new shorthold tenant, you will:

  • only be able to refer your rent to a rent assessment committee during the first 6 months of the tenancy;

The Landlord is obligated to issue the Tenant with two months’ written notice if they wish to terminate the agreement.

The following information is commonly found in a tenancy agreement;

  • Your full name, the Landlords full name and address
  • The full address of the property being let.
  • The length of the Tenancy including start date and potential end date
  • The amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid, the specific day it must be paid and when legally it can be increased.
  • What utility services and charges are expected to be paid by the tenant, should the utility bills be, included in the rental agreement, it should also be stated.
  • The services your landlord will supply under the agreement for example maintenance, certified installations gas and electricity. Allowing quiet enjoyment of the property free from demands of access without prior notice.
  • It stipulates the notice period expected from either party when ending the agreement.

We’re here to help!

Remember we are here to help, should you require any additional information or clarification, please do not hesitate to ask one of our attentive letting team members who are always happy to assist

If you are dissatisfied with any of our services at any time and wish to make a complaint and the Negotiator or Office Manager is not able to resolve your complaint, please write to the Company Director at our Head Office of 43 Lower High Street Wednesbury WS10 7AQ. If you remain dissatisfied after this process you may within six months of the complaint being made refer your dispute to the Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme.