Plans for the biggest ever overhaul of the UK’s privately rented housing sector will soon be launched … not by the government … not by legislators … but by landlords themselves.
The single most far-reaching move towards self-regulation comes from the Residential Landlords Association whose members own over 100,000 private rented properties throughout the UK.
The RLA is announcing a new initiative that will bring local authorities into partnership with responsible landlords who are committed to raising professional standards and providing good quality accommodation.
The ‘Residential Landlords Accreditation Scheme’ (RLAS) will be open to any landlord or property manager in England and Wales – irrespective of RLA membership – who wants to be part of a voluntary self-regulated group dedicated to improving standards in the private rented housing sector.
RLAS is expected to roll out, nationally, from founding local authority partners in Blackpool, Wyre and the Fylde.
The intention is to give tenants better living conditions by providing higher standards of decent, safe homes.
And the RLA will provide a raft of support services to support landlords, help them share information, skills, experience, abilities and good practice.
“Over the last few years private rented sector landlords have been surrounded by an overwhelming increase in legislation, regulation and government reviews,” says RLA chairman Alan Ward. “Most of this has been unnecessary because we have always believed that self-regulation and closer partnerships between stakeholders is the key to improving standards of professionalism, property and reputation.
“There is no shortage of will to achieve this but this sort of organised framework is needed to create the partnerships that can foster better communication and understanding of mutual responsibilities between landlords, tenants and local authorities.”
The self-financing scheme will accredit landlords not properties – although accommodation will be inspected to ensure it complies with accepted criteria or can be upgraded within an agreed period.
A ‘National Accredited Landlord’ or “Nationally Accredited Managing Agent’ will have met the required personal standard as a ‘fit and proper person’ and agreed to strict rules about property condition, good management practice and fostering good relationships with tenants.
They will undergo training courses on managing different types of tenancy, using deposit schemes, health and safety, fire safety, risk assessment for residential hazards and landlord responsibilities such as repairs, maintenance, furnishings, kitchen, bathroom and toilet standards, electrical and gas installations and appliances, heating, lighting, ventilation, hygiene, waste disposal and complaints procedures.
A conditional commitment to ‘continual professional development’ will be expected every five years or accreditation could be revoked. Landlords and agents will be disciplined for lapses and the RLAS will have its own appeals procedure.
For tenants the scheme will offer a choice of landlords, with proven standards, who have accepted the RLA’s code of conduct, been rigorously vetted and professionally trained.
And local authorities will receive the co-operation of accredited landlords to support their strategic duty to provide quality, safe and healthy privately rented accommodation.
The Residential Landlords Association has made a heavy investment to set up an ‘arms length’ company that will manage the scheme, provide key training courses, and support services including a dedicated website and manned help desk.
“Raising the entire game can only benefit everyone involved – as well as contributing to more sustainable local communities,” says Alan Ward. “But even a better qualified generation of progressive landlords can’t achieve the result alone. This is a partnership issue and that is the only way to a successful conclusion.”
• The Residential Landlords Association is a leading national organisation with members owning over 100,000 properties in the UK’s professional private rented sector. The range of members’ services – on www.rla.org.uk – includes legal advice, insurance, financial services, credit referencing and training.