This article was updated on 23 May 2017 to reflect recent changes.
The London Rental Standard was a voluntary accreditation introduced by Boris Johnson in 2014 to provide a “comprehensive standard for letting” in the capital. Current London Mayor Sadiq Khan has now closed the scheme, saying it had “minimal impact.”
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When the London Rental Standard was introduced, City Hall claimed that it would “trigger a massive increase in accreditation and standards in the capital”, although at the time it was criticised for failing to go far enough.
It didn’t place any new legal obligations on landlords, and landlords weren’t legally required to sign up. Instead, it was intended to act as proof that a landlord was abiding by their existing legal obligations.
What was the London Rental Standard?
The London Rental Standard was a “voluntary set of minimum standards” that landlords and agents should adhere to. It was intended as a kitemark for quality in the private rented sector, and as a single, easily recognisable form of accreditation.
The Mayor intended that the Standard would be adopted by “all accreditation organisations” in order to provide a consistent badge for accredited landlords and agents. London Rental Standard accreditation was conducted through existing accreditation agencies, such as the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS).
Bodies that provided London Rental Standard accreditation had to have a code of practice that required landlords to have things like a written rental agreement and a protected deposit. Codes of practice also had to include other obligations, for example landlords had to agree to carry out urgent repairs within three days of notification, and to return deposits promptly. Participating bodies were also obliged to provide training to member landlords.
City Hall hoped that the London Rental Standard would help to give tenants confidence, and make it easier to differentiate between reputable landlords and rogue landlords.
Sadiq Khan scraps the London Rental Standard scheme
Experts have said that the voluntary nature of the scheme and lack of awareness amongst London residents and landlords meant that it had limited success. Current London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently announced that the London Rental Standard scheme will be discontinued.
In a letter to ARLA Propertymark CEO David Cox, Khan said: “Although many letting agents became accredited to the LRS, these agents were predominantly already affiliated to professional bodies, suggesting the scheme had minimal impact in raising standards amongst the worst letting agents and landlords. As a result the current administration feels that there would be limited value in continuing to dedicate scarce GLA resources to this project.”
Khan is focusing instead on measures to target irresponsible landlords, and he announced a new database of rogue agents and landlords last month. The new database is expected to launch in the autumn, and will use records provided by London boroughs.
Renters will be able to check prospective landlords to see if they’ve ever been prosecuted by a London borough for a housing offence, and they’ll be able to report landlords whom they suspect of criminal activity.
Having seen first-hand the shocking conditions Londoners face as a result of rogue landlords - I'm taking action. https://t.co/gAQ1HgdWSE— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 1, 2017
What to do if you have London Rental Standard accreditation
Landlords and letting agents should stop displaying the London Rental Standard badge by 26 July 2017. You’ll need to remove it from your website, stationery and marketing materials.
It’s important to understand that although the London Rental Standard scheme has ended, accreditation you’ve received from a buy-to-let body like the National Landlords Association (NLA) or the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) isn’t affected. Landlord accreditation and industry-specific training is still a good way of improving your knowledge and demonstrating your commitment to good buy-to-let practices.
Contact your accreditation body if you’re not sure how the end of the London Rental Standard scheme affects you.