Accreditation forges ahead

Renee Young, Landlord Development and Accreditation Officer at the NLA points to the growing trend of landlord accreditation.

lady_readingThere have been increasing calls for regulation of the private rented sector, and the landlords who operate within it, in order to improve standards of late.

However, this narrow-minded approach to better the sector is overshadowing another significant option which works in a much more productive way with local landlords, and which many local councils already reap the benefits of.

Penalising the good makes no sense

In most cases local landlord licensing schemes or even national registers – as already exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland – amounts to little more than names on a list and very little evidence supporting their necessity exists. The vast majority of landlords are responsible and provide well managed properties so in our mind it has always seemed totally unfair to penalise the good, in hope of catching the negative minority of who are failing their tenants.

A more productive solution – landlord accreditation and education

The NLA believes that landlord accreditation and education is a better way to give landlords the opportunity to stay on top of the ever changing regulations and, importantly, to enable them to better maintain their properties.

Our aim is to have all landlords work to this agreed standard. NLA Accreditation is purely based on landlord development and it offers greater consistency for all landlords, tenants and councils to recognise. Importantly it is an earmark of good practice which tenants can rely on.

Recent research from the NLA shows that about 70% of tenants said they’d be more likely to accept a property from a landlord if they knew they were committed to completing an annual programme of accreditation or training.

Taking off

Encouragingly, it’s not just tenants who see the benefits – a number of local councils seem to be getting the message, too. Many want to improve standards but ultimately don’t want to alienate the majority of good landlords in the area by imposing more red tape or costly measures.

Over 40 councils have already taken the initiative to offer the NLA accreditation scheme in its areas and the London Rental Standard, launched by Mayor Boris Johnson recently, is also closely based on the NLA’s accreditation framework. South Staffordshire and Crawley Council agreed to work with the NLA and have picked our accreditation scheme over other existing schemes in their regions. Cumbria City Council recently launched accreditation across the region – known as Cumbria Landlords Accreditation Scheme (CLAS).

Hastings and Rother, Breckland and Norfolk and Dorset Council are just some of the other authorities that offer accreditation based on the NLA’s model, too. These schemes have been in place for some years. Bournemouth who took the lead with Poole, Christchurch, East Dorset and Purbeck Council all signed up to provide this service.

Join the growing number of accredited landlords

For more information about the local accreditation schemes contact your local council. Here are some examples of what some of the aforementioned councils offer:

London Rental Standard

Bournemouth

South Staffordshire

Cumbria

If you’re yet to become accredited then visit the NLA’s website for more information about how it will benefit you. There are a number of reasons to become accredited (including potential discounts on other existing local licensing fees and grants for property improvement works) and, as well as standard chalk and talk style courses you can become accredited online, meaning you take it all at your own pace.

The future

Accreditation is becoming increasingly important and is increasingly being adopted by councils as a way of ensuring that the goods and services offered by landlords are safe and managed well.

We hope that this is the start of a wider rollout of our accreditation scheme, so that no matter where you are, tenants will know what standards landlords are held to.  If we expect local or central government to recognise and absorb the truth – that the rogues are in a minority and that landlords are of real value to the economy – then a commitment to operating professionally can only strengthen the argument. And if the silent majority of good landlords are prepared to demonstrate that they know how to operate as professionals, then surely more and more councils will see this as a positive step towards guaranteeing standards of property management and follow suit.

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