The Mayor of London has launched a new “comprehensive standard for letting” in the capital.
According to City Hall the London Rental Standard “will trigger a massive increase in accreditation and standards in the capital.” But the scheme has been criticised as “posturing”, for failing to take any steps further than those set out in existing law.
What is the London Rental Standard?
The London Rental Standard is a “voluntary set of minimum standards that the Mayor expects” from landlords and agents. It is intended as a kitemark for quality in the private rented sector, and as a single, easily recognisable form of accreditation.
The Mayor intends that the Standard will be adopted by “all accreditation organisations” in order to provide a consistent badge for accredited landlords and agents.
Under the London Rental Standard, schemes that accredit landlords must do the following things:
1. Have a “robust code of practice” that includes the following requirements.
- A written rental agreement
- A protected deposit, and details of its protection
- Landlord contact details should be provided to tenants
- Landlords must respond “within a reasonable period of time”
- Tenants should be given at least 24 hours' notice of access, in writing and stating reasons, other than in an emergency
- Urgent repairs should be carried out within three days of notification
- Properties must comply with all legal standards
- Landlords “must work towards” the requirements of the Energy Act 2011
- Deposits should be returned promptly, and references provided if requested
- Landlords must act fairly and not discriminate on the basis of things like age, sex, or disability.
2. Have a complaints procedure in place
3. Provide training to member landlords
4. Require that landlords are fit and proper persons as defined by the Housing Act 2004, and that they conduct at least ten hours' Continuous Personal Development per year beyond their initial training.
The London Rental Standard places no new legal obligations on landlords. Indeed, landlords are not even legally required to sign up. Instead, it is intended to act as proof that a landlord is abiding by their existing legal obligations.
Why should I apply?
City Hall hopes that the London Rental Standard will ensure that tenants have faith in their landlords, and that it will make it easier to differentiate between reputable and 'rogue' operators. It is also hoped that accreditation of agents will make it easier for landlords to find the right agencies with which to contract. Finally, as accreditation will still be conducted through one of the existing accreditation agencies, such as the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, you may also benefit from the perks offered by the individual scheme that you choose.
How do I apply?
The Greater London Authority will not accredit landlords itself. Instead it will 'passport in' members of existing accreditation schemes. If those schemes do not currently meet the requirements of the London Rental Standard then landlords will be provided with, for example, extra training to ensure that they meet the Standard.
As such, you can join the London Rental Standard by becoming an accredited landlord through a scheme like the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS). This is the largest such scheme, and is free to join, although you will have to pay £70 to attend the training session. You can apply for LLAS membership here.