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  • Legal FAQs

    Serving of prescribed information...

    Dear All,

    Your opinions and advice here would be welcome:

    The LA I currently use issues all information/contracts using digital processes. Whilst I am generally ok about a digital contract/tenancy agreement, I have concerns in how they have hitherto issued the four pieces of prescribed documentation that apply to me, namely the Deposit Protection Certificate; the Guidelines to the DPC; the How to Rent Guide; and the EPC.

    My fear is that an opportunist tenant will turn round at the end of the tenancy and falsely claim the documentation was never served and the difficulty in proving this.

    Last time round, I am 97% confident that the LA even forgot to serve the How to Rent Guide, so as a precaution I e-mailed the link myself to the tenant, who acknowledged it.

    I have rung the RLA twice about this and got mixed messages. The first adviser said that whilst such digital processes might pass in the EU, there is a legal ambivalence here in the UK, and signed paper work proving receipt "really is the only way". The second adviser said that in this day and age serving digitally has to be acceptable, and the only thing he personally would recommend was actually signed for was the Gas Certificate (no gas in my properties).

    Incidentally, I spoke to Eddie Hooker, then CEO of My Deposits, two years ago at a property fair and he said you cannot always pin down a tenant to physically sign for receipt of the DPC and Guidelines, in which case for the LL to print it out, sign their part, scan it back in and e-mail it to the tenant as an attachment.

    The LA said with their computer systems they can always prove the tenant received the information. Well, that's all well and good assuming one is still in communication with the LA at that time and bearing in mind the possibility that any judge, taking the government cue, might find for the tenant irrespective of any digital proof. And that is if the LA does not c**k something up prior to that.

    I am not worried about my current tenants trying something on, and I appreciate that such cases are far and few between, but one reads on Property Tribes precisely about incidents such as these, and this is a scenario I wish to avoid.

    Thanks in advance,

    Happy Landlord

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    Physically post everything with **FREE** "proof of postage from any post office.

    PI has to give tenant option to sign:  Tenant doesn't have to sign.

    I'd no more rely on a letting agent or RLA to either understand or comply with the law than I would rely on my deceased father to represent me in court. I am a member of the RLA.....

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    How do you prove that you included all the documents if the tenant claims they only received a subset?

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    I use digital processes for everything but also make the tenant sign (digitally) that they have received the required info you mention.

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    Link !  -  No

    The Govt has specifically said that if the H2R is to be served electronically, the complete document must be provided ( as an Attachment ) and Not the Link.

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    You can only serve the How to Rent guide electronically if the tenant has explicitly agreed to that in their tenancy agreement.There's a slight risk if it's sent to them electronically at the same time as the agreement that the consent hasn't actually happened when the document was served.

    The requirements for Prescribed Information mean that the tenant has to be given the opportunity to sign the document, which an electronic service which includes the ability to sign things might actually make better.

    I don't think there's much legal ambivalence about signing things electronically. It should be fine.

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    'You can only serve the How to Rent guide electronically if the tenant has explicitly agreed to that in their tenancy agreement.'

    MY UNDERSTANDING IS THE AST IS TOO LATE.  ITS NEEDS TO BE BEFORE THAT, EG IN HEADS OF TERMS.

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    There aren't any time limits relating to when the document has to given to the tenant (other than before a section 21 is served), so as long as the tenant gives permission for electronic service before they receive the documents electronically it should be fine.

    I'm a "hard copy" and post landlord myself.

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    At the point of taking a tenancy, we get the tenants to sign an additional one page document that outlines all our compliance, Client Money Protection Membership, mydeposits Membership, PRS Membership and ICO Membership etc and says

    I have been given a written AST.....

    I have been given a written Inventory.....

    I understand my depost is being protected via mydeposits.....

    I have received a copy of the current GSC.....

    I have received a copy of the EPC.....

    I have received a copy of the governments How to Rent Guide......

    There's no reason why your agent shouldn't do this electronically, you can't not do this these days as you can't serve a Section 8/21 Notice etc without having prescribed all the above covering yourself and your landlord.

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    You can not serve the tenant with the HTR booklet by email unless you have explicit consent and it can only be done to the email address they provide - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/...ion/3/made

    You should also be wary of serving any other documents by electronic means without consent if you want to rely on them in court as CPR 6A 4 doesn't allow it - https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedu...art06a#4.1. This may or may not apply to the GSC and EPC but will apply to section 8 and 21 notices.

    When asking the prospective tenant for their information to create the contract etc I always ask them to include a statement saying they consent to be served documents by email and that they understand that they can withdraw this consent at any time. When I serve the documents I ask them to acknowledge receipt of all the documents (which I list in the email).

    If I ever get a tenant not prepared to make that statement then I will serve them documents by post/in person and get them to sign a form of acceptance.

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    'If I ever get a tenant not prepared to make that statement then I will serve them documents by post/in person and get them to sign a form of acceptance.'

    IF I EVER GOT A TENANT NOT PREPARED TO MAKE THAT STATEMENT THEN I WOULD NOT HAVE THEM AS MY TENANT!

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