This article was first published in Lexis PSL Property.
Does a landlord who has granted an assured shorthold tenancy have an obligation to provide a rent book or other form of statement to the tenant?
Section 4 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985) provides that "Where a tenant has a right to occupy premises as a residence in consideration of a rent payable weekly, the landlord shall provide a rent book or other similar document for use in respect of the premises". Accordingly, a landlord has a duty to provide a rent book or similar document to a tenant or statutory tenant of residential property in consideration of rent payable weekly. LTA 1985, s 4 does not apply to those tenants for whom rent includes a payment for board which forms a substantial proportion of the whole rent. Substantial proportion is not defined in the LTA 1985. A similar expression under the Rent Act has been taken to mean 15% (Thomas v Pascall).
It is important to remember that the duty only arises if the rent is payable weekly. In R (on the application of Dewa) v Marylebone Magistrates Court, the Administrative court held that whether a tenancy is a weekly tenancy for the purposes of LTA 1985, s4 is to be determined by reference to the obligations under the tenancy agreement and not by reference to the frequency with which rent or housing benefit is actually paid. In that case, the rent payable weekly, was in fact paid fortnightly and by way of housing benefit received monthly.
Under LTA 1985, s4(3)(a), the word "tenant" is defined so that it includes a statutory tenant and a person having a contractual right to occupy the premises.
LTA 1985, s5 prescribes detail of the information to be contained in the rent books, including specific requirements for assured tenants. The Rent Book (Forms of Notice) (Amendment) Regulations 1988, SI 1988/2198 provides the prescribed form to be used by the landlord. An assured tenant within part 1 of the Housing Act 1988 (HA 1988) includes an assured shorthold tenant, which is simply an assured tenancy (HA 1988, s19A). Accordingly, any requirements which apply to assured tenants under the LTA 1985 includes both assured tenants and assured shorthold tenants.
Under LTA 1985, s7(1), a failure to provide a rent book is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to level 4 on the standard scale, which is currently £2,500. The failure to provide a rent book does not however prevent the landlord from recovering any rent due: Shaw v Groom.
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