When we hire tradespeople or choose a letting agent, it’s good to know if the business is affiliated with a trade organisation or accreditation scheme.
This means their work will have been assessed by a qualified third party to show that they meet a specific set of industry guidelines.
If you haven’t hired their services before, you can at least then expect a certain level of care, quality and customer satisfaction.
Should being a landlord be any different? By enrolling in a landlord accreditation scheme, earning your certificate will prove you follow a code of practice and respect the needs of the tenant. As part of the scheme, you will often receive training and be given the chance to market your property through it.
Being part of a scheme isn’t a legal requirement at the moment in England (it will be shortly in Wales), but can be an incentive for people looking to rent and for agencies to want to work with you. It shows you will uphold professional standards and be responsive.
There are lots of different schemes offering landlord accreditation, however. Generally, these will be run by a local authority in conjunction with a college, university or landlords’ association.
Choosing a scheme
Each scheme will carry its own set of requirements, with some considered more credible than others; there are those where meeting only a basic set of minimum standards is required to pass. Charities like Shelter are asking the government to get tougher on these, so that the quality of rented accommodation can generally be improved.
Other schemes might be dictated by who you’re looking to rent to. Some of the best known accreditation UK schemes for landlords are run by colleges and universities. Only landlords or agencies approved by these schemes can then promote their properties through the student accommodation office. This approval assures the education boards that their students are considering property suitable for them and will not be taken advantage of.
There are well known regional initiatives too, and one of the biggest is the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme. Administered by the London borough of Camden, this operates in partnership with other accreditation schemes to form the UK Landlord Accreditation Partnership (UKLAP).
Recently, the National Register of Accredited Landlords was set up by the National Landlords Organisation, which its members can join free of charge. It allows tenants and council officers to check whether a landlord is accredited, no matter which scheme they belong to.
To find an accreditation scheme near you, go to the Accreditation Network UK website.
Once you’ve signed up to your chosen scheme, it may be that someone comes out to your property to assess it. There is also likely to be some form of training involved, or courses to attend. If you are accepted, it may be that you have to commit to further training later on to constantly improve standards, sign up to a code of practice and arrange additional safety assessments not required by law – more frequent electrical checks, for example.
Of course, there are benefits in return. Showing your commitment to a scheme increases your chances of finding respectable tenants who value these sorts of things, and you receive training and support to become a better landlord. There may also be financial benefits, such as insurance offers or lower licence fees for HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) properties. You should be able to market your property via the scheme too.
What is UKAS?
There are additional accreditation services that can also come in handy for landlords. One is the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). This is the sole national accreditation body, recognised by the government, assessing any organisations that provide certification, inspection and calibration services to internationally agreed standards.
NAPIT, for example, is an UKAS-accredited company that a landlord can contact to find a trustworthy tradesperson to work on their property. By finding a NAPIT registered installer, you know that they fall in line with UKAS certification and meet official guidelines and building regulations.
As one of the conditions for joining a particular landlord accreditation scheme, you may need to have an UKAS-approved inspection in certain areas, with a health and safety risk assessment concerning building materials like asbestos, for example.
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