Many thanks to Rich Greenhill (@RichGreenhill ) for spotting this.
The last official update to the MHCLG ‘How to Rent’ Guide was on 31 May 2019, to take into account the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
However, since then, there have been two further changes to the Guide, sneaked out without anything to announce on the ‘How to Rent’ guide gov.uk page to say these have happened. It still shows the last update as 31 May 2019.
On 3 June 2019, the guide was updated to change the reference and link on page 5 from “NALS” to “Safeagent” .
On 29 July 2019, the guide was further updated to change the wording on page 4 from “If you don’t have a guarantor, you can ask Shelter for help.” to “…for advice.”
Both of these amended versions have been added to our ‘How to Rent’ archive page.
This really should not happen. While the changes are relatively minor tweaks, they are changes nonetheless. 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? (Not least as the gov.uk page says it hasn’t been changed since then.)
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.
[Update 7 August 2019. Following this post, MHCLG have updated the How to Rent guide page to acknowledge the changes.
[Update 15 August 2019 – the current ‘How to rent’ guide pdf remains dated ‘May 2019’ at the bottom. This may well be a cause of confusion, for example for tenants thinking they have not received the latest version. Unfortunately, the only way to check is to look at the text on page 4 and 5 to see if it includes the two changes.]