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What is Landlord Accreditation?
Landlord Accreditation (The BLA)
A lot changed in the private rented sector in 2020 through to 2021 we have seen the introduction of new laws come into force.
This is partly due to COVID-19 and a drive to improve the standards in the rental sector so when renting, the property condition is fit for purpose.
Relatively new legislation like the electrical safety inspection certification, updates to existing regulation, and new property licensing schemes are introduced. Not to forget the end of the Tenant Fee Act grace period.
Landlords and letting agents are doing the best they can under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In the broader scheme of things, private landlords could be forgiven for not paying attention to what is happening in the private housing sector.
The Government has not relaxed the legal obligations of landlords that they are required to meet because of the COVID-19 situation.
The Government did not suspend any of the duties or penalties for non-compliance due to the covid-19.
Partly for the above reasons, it is essential to keep up to speed with your legal obligations in managing your portfolio to ensure you remain compliant.
An excellent method for landlords and letting agents stay compliant and obtain efficiency is by joining a landlord accreditation scheme.
Compliance is only one reason to seek landlord accreditation. This blog explains what a voluntary accreditation scheme is and how it can benefit you.
Landlord accreditation scheme can ensure you manage your letting business for efficiency, saving time, cost and stress.
What is a landlord accreditation scheme?
Landlord accreditation schemes are voluntary arrangements that are offered by various trade bodies.
The British Landlords Association (The BLA) and the National Residential landlords association NRLA are the main trade bodies offering accreditation.
Accreditation means landlords agree to adhere to best practices and processes, which are a set of benchmarks.
Benchmarks are generally minimum standards similar set by the Government relating to the property condition of the private rental housing. Protocol to better harness the relationship between a landlord and tenant.
Many of the accreditation schemes are run by local authorities, usually in partnership with a university or landlord organisations.
These schemes are structured to raise standards in the private rental sector to ensure that landlords are trained and comply with codes of practice approved and set by the scheme.
Many problems arise during a tenancy due to a lack of awareness of the regulations and best practices. These can be simple things, not knowing the correct tenancy type to use or conducting a credit check.
Accreditation schemes assist all parties, the tenant and landlord and avoid common potential pitfalls of which some are common.
Landlord Accreditation provides training on relevant regulations and continuing professional development, which is important to maintain accreditation.
Some landlord accreditation schemes work by the member being assessed.
Members need to meet the criteria, so rental homes comply with the relevant legal requirements.
The rental property needs to be fully compliant with the current legislation, safe and free of hazards before being let.
In addition to smoke alarms, Tenancy agreement creation, landlords need to be mindful of the Housing Health & Safety Rating System hazards:
- Damp or mould.
- Excess cold or heat.
- Fire hazards.
- Faulty appliances or other electrical equipment.
- Dangerous gas leaks.
- Lack of means to adequately secure the property (e.g broken locks, windows etc).
- Risk of injury due to building disrepair.
Property management standards
Landlord Accreditation schemes require landlords to undertake online training and continuing professional development.
It is necessary to ensure they understand their legal obligations and follow best practices when renting their properties.
Upon enrolling on a scheme, you are expected to complete a comprehensive online training course. This is followed up by continuing professional development. This is a requirement if the member wishes to keep the accreditation active.
What are the benefits of landlord accreditation?
One of the main significant benefits of seeking accreditation is that it will equip you to run your letting business efficiently with best practices.
When new legislation comes into force, the Government does very little to make the affected industry of the new law. So it is important landlords join a landlords association like the BLA and aim to obtain accreditation.
Accreditation scheme helps keep members up to date with recent regulations and industry best practices so that you do not fall foul of your legal responsibilities.
Accredited landlords are generally provided with ongoing support, training, and access to regular top-up training courses.
Much of the resources for members are online or through landlord forums.
The direct benefits to be gained from the high-quality professional training landlords receive, schemes offer numerous incentives to encourage local landlords to participate. These might include:
- Direct access to marketing platforms to advertise your rental property.
- Access to local authority grants for repairs and home improvements.
- Property licensing fees, for members, the licence fee is usually discounted.
- Discount on possession proceedings legal fees
- Discount on advanced landlord training courses
- Access to the latest version of the residential lettings document
- Letting management practices guide
An accreditation scheme landlord is viewed as a professional landlord by renters, which gives them the confidence to maintain property standards.
An accredited landlord can take advantage of the scheme branding & marketing when letting to prospective tenants.
How do I become accredited?
Once you have found the appropriate local scheme or through one of the national landlords associations. You can then buy an online course and complete the online course.
Due to the Coronavirus, all courses are now being conducted online.
Some schemes require the applicant to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ criteria. Before buying a course, check the scheme terms & conditions and the scheme or the association’s code of practice.
A fit and proper person is a person without criminal convictions or civil penalties related to charges of violence, fraud and sexual abuse.
The person should not have a conviction for unlawful discrimination based on protected legal characteristics or violation of housing law or landlord and tenant regulations.
The Codes of practice vary; however, they expect members to maintain minimum standards governing the physical condition of the rental property.
Code of practice requires full compliance with legal obligations, minimum timescales for completing repairs and essential maintenance. In addition, members are expected to maintain property standards and good standards of conduct when managing tenants.
The accreditation fee varies considerably so does the process to obtain accreditation. The fee depends on the scheme provider and location and is between £50 – £150 for an accreditation lasting 1-3 years.
On the expiry, the renewal fee is usually much lower so you can maintain your accredited status.
London Landlord Accreditation Scheme
The London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LAS) is the most well-known scheme in England & Wales.
The LAS landlord training is run in partnership with most London boroughs together with landlord associations and universities.
To become accredited, landlords need to buy an online training course. In addition, satisfy their fit and proper person criteria and agree to subscribe to their code of conduct.
Landlord accreditation Scotland for residential property landlords is not the same as the schemes in England & Wales.
As some property investors already know, some councils insist on property managers to be accredited and have appropriate qualifications before granting a license.
Landlord Accreditation course
Organizations like the BLA and NRLA offer online landlord accreditation courses. This may mean you have to take an online landlord foundation course.
Rent Smart Wales RSW offer training courses for Welsh landlords. You can contact Rent Smart Wales by email or telephone about their latest courses.
The BLA courses: