Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has launched a new voluntary accreditation scheme for Landlords and Letting agents. It is called the “London Rental Standard” and an accreditation badge will be issued upon successful completion of a one day course.
This scheme is designed to improve the quality and standard of rental accommodation for tenants in the London boroughs. Mr Johnson said, “with more of London’s workforce and young families living in rented homes, this growing sector is vital to meeting this capital’s housing needs and must not be overlooked. This standard aims to improve the experience of everyone involved, from landlord to tenant, with a clear set of good practice rules.”
The accreditation scheme for Landlords includes:
- Written rental agreement must always be provided and should include the rent terms,
frequency of payment, and the period of tenancy or license.
- Deposit must be protected, the amount must be specified and a copy of how the deposit is
protected must be provided to the tenant.
- Contact details providing the tenant with their contact details including their address and
two contact telephone numbers (mobile and landline) and an email address. Landlords should endeavour to respond to tenant communication in a prompt manner.
- Availability – landlords should always be contactable and must respond within a reasonable
period of time. If unavailable, tenants should be informed and given alternative contact
- Reasonable notice of access given – except in case of an emergency, landlords should give the tenant at least 24 hours notice, in writing and stating reasons, when access to the property is required by the landlord, contractor or agent.
- Emergency repairs should be dealt with or made safe as soon as practically possible
and normally on the same day that a landlord is notified. Emergency repairs are defined as any defect where there is a risk of danger to the health, safety and security of the tenant or a third party on the premises, or that affects the structure of the building adversely.
- Urgent repairs wherever possible these should be dealt with within three working days of a
landlord being notified.
- Property conditions – landlords must ensure that properties comply with legal requirements,
including having no category 1 hazards or significant/multiple category 2 hazards. Where
relevant, properties must also comply with licensing schemes and landlords will always comply with statutory notices served by a local authority.
- Energy efficiency – landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them
by the Energy Act 2011, especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by
tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.
- End of tenancy the deposit should be returned promptly and in full, minus verified costs
that are chargeable to the tenant’s deposit. Landlords should provide tenant references if
- Complaints – landlords must respond to tenant complaints promptly and accreditation
schemes must have their own complaints process in place if complaints are escalated.
- Dealing with tenants – landlords must always act in a fair, reasonable and professional
manner in their dealings with tenants, and must not discriminate in their dealings with
prospective and/or existing tenants or treat them less favorably than others because of their
colour, creed, ethnic or national origin, disability, age, sex, marital status, sexuality, politics, or their responsibility for dependents.
For Letting Agents the scheme includes the above and the following:
- Fees and charges – landlords and tenants should be provided with a written statement setting out services to be provided and charges. Tenant charges should be published, preferably on a website.
- Insurance – maintain professional indemnity insurance and have in place client money protection insurance cover through a designated scheme for example RICs, ARLA/NAEA, Law Society or NALs.
- Pre-tenancy to give clients advice on the level of rent they can expect to pay, arrange for relevant safety checks of properties and inform clients of defects, provide and fill in a rental agreement and take a deposit where instructed.
- During tenancy to collect the rent if instructed, keeping a separate clients account to hold all money, belong to a client money protection scheme for example SAFEagent.
- End of tenancy togive clients advice on their options including reviewing the rent, serving correct notice on the tenant, dealing with return of the deposit in a prompt manner.
- Complaints – maintain and operate a consumer complaints procedure and offer a means of independent consumer redress such as being a member of an appropriate ombudsman.
Critics of the London Rental Standard have said that it will only cover good landlords and that tenants need protecting from the landlords that would never sign up to a voluntary scheme.
London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said “the mayor of London’s standard gives tenants no real protections against landlords evicting in retaliation for complaints, or against big rent hikes, and fails to ban outrageous letting agent fees.”
However Shelter CEO Campbell Robb said, “it’s good to see that the Mayor has listened to the thousands of people who joined Shelter in saying that renting in London just isn’t working. This scheme will be one step in the right direction to ensuring that all renters in the capital can find the decent home they need.”
On the back of the London Rental Standard, MyDeposit is offering a half price deal to accredited landlords for its deposit scheme.