August 2013 – Too much information? – Tenant Information Packs

Author: Mitchells Roberton
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Most private sector residential tenancies these days are either “short assured” tenancies or “assured” tenancies”. This Note concerns (only) such tenancies.

Sometimes these days one can feel in a permanent state of “information-overload”. New Regulations – The Tenant Information Packs (Assured Tenancies)(Scotland) Order 2013 (“the Regulations”) – which came into effect on 1st May 2013 do nothing to dispel that general sense. As the title of the Regulations indicates they provide for landlords giving tenants an “Information Pack” covering a range of matters relating to the tenancy.

The Information Pack is a standardised document provided under the Regulations by the Scottish Government and runs to 20 pages. This does rather suggest a case of “information-overload”. But, in fact, the Information Pack is well set out, summarising matters succinctly and clearly. It will be helpful both to landlords and tenants in providing a check-list of many of the matters that will need to be addressed. A copy of the Information Pack is accessible at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0041/00413146.pdf

The aim of this Note is simply to highlight certain points about these Tenant Information Packs (“Packs”).

General overall outline

  • From 1st May 2013 a Pack will have to be provided by landlords for all new “short assured” and “assured” tenancies.
  • This includes the renewal of existing tenancies where the landlord and tenant draw up a new lease: but a Pack will not be required for existing leases
  • If a letting agent manages the property the tenant still has to receive a Pack. The legal duty is on the landlord, but the agent can provide the Pack on his or her behalf.
  • The Pack is not part of the tenancy agreement but sets out important information about e.g.: ending the tenancy; gas safety; electrical safety; energy performance certificates; the repairing standard etc.
  • The landlord must provide the Pack by the tenancy start date. It can be provided in hard copy form or electronically (e.g. by email). If provided by e.g. email the landlord can request acknowledgement of its receipt by e.g. email.
  • Where there are joint tenants they can be asked to accept one Pack between them.
  • As mentioned above, the Pack is a standardised document and cannot be modified by the landlord (or tenant). But more detailed information that is property-specific (e.g. local contacts) can be provided separately to supplement the Pack.
  • The Pack will be updated by the Scottish Government to reflect any future changes in housing law. So landlords and new tenants should refer to the Scottish Government website for the latest version of the Pack.
  • Importantly, failure to provide the Pack is a criminal offence. If a landlord does not provide it they may be fined up to £500.
  • The tenant is not required to pay for the Pack: indeed, the tenant is not to be charged for any of the “standard tenancy documents” (see below) which the landlord is required to provide.

A few particular points in a bit more detail

The “standard tenancy documents”

By the time the tenancy begins the landlord is under a duty to provide the tenant with the following documents:

  • the tenancy agreement;
  • where the tenancy is a “short assured” tenancy (which is the usual case) an “AT5” form (concerning the special rights which a landlord has under a short assured tenancy to repossess the property);
  • a copy of any gas safety record that requires to be given to the tenant in accordance with regulation 36(6) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (e.g. where there is a gas boiler); and
  • a Pack.

 

Provision of documents “in writing”

  • The general rule is that the tenant must be provided with the standard tenancy documents in a written format.
  • But the tenant may, in particular, be provided with a Pack by “electronic communication” if the tenant has told the landlord that he or she is happy to receive documents by electronic communication, and has supplied an email address for that purpose (and the document is sent to that address).

 

Joint tenants

Where there are joint tenants each of those tenants must be provided with a copy of any gas safety record as is required but the other standard tenancy documents may be provided to the tenants jointly.

Nevertheless, unless the landlord has acknowledgement from a joint tenant that he or she has received a joint Pack the landlord must, no later than the date on which the assured tenancy starts, provide him or her with a separate copy of the Pack.

Note: This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action. If you would like us to advise you on any of the matters covered in this material, please contact Paul Neilly: paul@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

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