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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT

Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

Appendix 1

Draft London Rental Standard


1. Introduction
1.1 The London Rental Standard The London Rental Standard sets out the minimum standards that the Mayor expects from accreditation schemes that operate in London. The aim of the London Rental Standard is to raise professional standards in the capitals private rented sector, by providing a consistent standard of accreditation to consumers and a vehicle for increasing the number of accredited landlords and agents. The London Rental Standard is not an accreditation scheme. Accrediting organisations are responsible for ensuring that their own standards meet the London Rental Standard and that landlords and agents do the same. The Mayor is strongly supportive of the development of a single badge of accreditation for all accrediting organisations that meet the London Rental Standard. The Mayor will work with accrediting organisations to encourage the adoption of such a badge. 1.2 Landlords and letting agents A landlord is defined as the legal owner of a house, flat or other accommodation which is rented or leased to a tenant or lessee for a fee, whether they are an individual or business. An agent is defined as someone who is instructed by a landlord and is paid to find a tenant for a property in accordance with the contract they have agreed, whether in writing or not. Managing the property and tenancy is often shared between a landlord and an agent. In all cases, accrediting organisations must ensure that all relevant standards are applied.

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

2.

Defined standards

2.1 Landlord accreditation schemes Accreditation schemes that accredit landlords, and accreditation schemes that accredit agents who undertake similar functions to landlords, should do the following:

have a robust code of practice in place which requires those being accredited to comply with certain requirements in relation to landlord services. These requirements must include: i. Written rental agreement: this must always be provided and should include the rent terms, frequency of payment, and the period of tenancy or license.

ii. Deposit: must be protected, the amount must be specified and a copy of how the deposit is protected must be provided to the tenant. iii. Contact details: providing the tenant with their contact details including their address and two contact telephone numbers (mobile and landline) and an email address. Landlords should endeavour to respond to tenant communication in a prompt manner. iv. Availability: landlords should always be contactable and must respond within a reasonable period of time. If unavailable, tenants should be informed and given alternative details. v. Reasonable notice of access: except in case of an emergency, landlords should give the tenant at least 24 hours notice, in writing and stating reasons, when access to the property is required by the landlord, contractor or agent. vi. Emergency repairs: these should be dealt with or made safe as soon as practically possible and normally on the same day that a landlord is notified. Emergency repairs are defined as any defect where there is a risk of danger to the health, safety and security of the tenant or a third party on the premises, or that affects the structure of the building adversely. vii. Urgent repairs: wherever possible these should be dealt with within three working days of a landlord being notified. viii. Property conditions: landlords must ensure that properties comply with legal requirements, including having no category 1 hazards or significant/multiple category 2 hazards. Where relevant, properties must also comply with licensing schemes and landlords will always comply with statutory notices served by a local authority. ix. Energy efficiency: landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them by the Energy Act 2011, especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance. x. End of tenancy: the deposit should be returned promptly and in full, minus verified costs that are chargeable to the tenants deposit. Landlords should provide tenant references if requested. xi. Complaints: landlords must respond to tenant complaints promptly and accreditation schemes must have their own complaints process in place if complaints are escalated. xii. Dealing with tenants: landlords must always act in a fair, reasonable and professional manner in their dealings with tenants, and must not discriminate in their dealings with prospective and/or existing tenants or treat them less favorably than others because of their colour, creed, ethnic or national origin, disability, age, sex, marital status, sexuality, politics, or their responsibility for dependents.

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

provide training to member landlords (see annex 1 for the minimum defined standards for the training syllabus) have certain requirements of landlords themselves, including the following: i. be a fit and proper person as defined by the Housing Act 2004

ii. they must undertaken Continuous Professional Development of at least ten hours a year (or equivalent).

have an appropriate process for ensuring that accredited landlords continue to meet the requirements for accreditation and a process for disciplining, removing or unaccrediting those who fail to meet the requirements of their scheme.

2.2 Agent accreditation schemes Accreditation schemes that accredit agents or organisations who undertake similar functions to agents should do the following:

meet all of the standards of the landlord accreditation schemes where landlord functions are carried out by agents. This includes the rental agreement, deposit, contact details, notice of access and repairs. have a robust code of practice in place which requires those being accredited to comply with certain requirements in relation to agent services. As a minimum, these requirements must include: i. Fees and charges: landlords and tenants should be provided with a written statement setting out services to be provided and charges. Tenant charges should be published, e.g. on a website.

ii. Insurance: maintain professional indemnity insurance and have in place client money protection insurance cover through a designated scheme for example RICs, ARLA/NAEA, Law Society or NALs. iii. Pre-tenancy: give clients advice on the level of rent they can expect to pay, arrange for relevant safety checks of properties and inform clients of defects, provide and fill in a rental agreement and take a deposit where instructed. iv. During tenancy: collect the rent if instructed, keeping a separate clients account to hold all money, belong to a client money protection scheme. v. End of tenancy: give clients advice on their options including reviewing the rent, serving correct notice on the tenant, dealing with return of the deposit in a prompt manner. vi. Complaints: maintain and operate a consumer complaints procedure and offer a means of independent consumer redress such as being a member of an appropriate ombudsman.

provide training to member agents (see annex 2 for the minimum defined standards for the training syllabus).

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

require agents to have at least 1 member of staff accredited (those who are actively managing) in each branch office of the agent. take all reasonable steps to ensure that advice to landlords, tenants and prospective tenants is accurate and compliant with current legal requirements. have an appropriate process for ensuring that accredited agents continue to meet the requirements for accreditation and a process for disciplining, removing or unaccrediting those who fail to meet the requirements of their scheme.

3.

Governance

3.1 London Rental Standard panel The London Rental Standard will be overseen by a panel. This panel will be responsible for the following:

judging whether accrediting organisations are compliant with the London Rental Standard monitoring compliance to ensure that the London Rental Standard continues to be met reviewing the London Rental Standard each year and publishing an updated version as appropriate.

The panel will comprise seven representatives: the GLA two members from boroughs active in their approach to improving the private rented sector (to be nominated by London Councils) a member from Shelter a member from a private tenant organisation a member from a landlord organisation (but not an organisation that also provides accreditation) an independent expert.

3.2 The advisory group A wider advisory group will be responsible for

generating and taking forward ideas for increasing the number of accredited landlords and agents including potential incentives marketing and promotion of the London Rental Standard and accreditation

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

potential future development of the London Rental Standard opportunities for further improving standards in the private rented sector.

Membership of the wider group will comprise those represented on the London Rental Standard panel plus accrediting organisations and representatives from other boroughs. The advisory group will report to the panel. 3.3 The role of accrediting organisations Accrediting organisations will be responsible for the following:

accrediting individual landlords or agents according to existing established criteria and protocols that must as a minimum meet the London Rental Standard providing the facility for tenants to check on the current accreditation status of landlords and agents distributing marketing material related to the London Rental Standard to members monitoring accredited landlords and agents to ensure that they are meeting the requirements for continuous professional development reviewing accredited landlords and agents to make sure that they still comply with the requirements of accreditation.

3.4 The role of the GLA The GLA will be responsible for:

convening and servicing the London Rental Standard panel and advisory group meetings promoting the creation of a single badge of accreditation for all schemes holding the intellectual property rights for the London Rental Standard referring any complaints about accredited landlords or agents to the relevant accrediting organisation.

The GLA will not be responsible for:

accrediting landlords or agents this is the responsibility of the accrediting organisations establishing the single badge of accreditation this is the responsibility of the accrediting organisations

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4.

dealing directly with any complaints about accredited landlords or agents these will be directed to the appropriate organisation.

Marketing and promotion

A marketing and communication strategy for the London Rental Standard should be written and agreed by accrediting organisations and the panel. It should include:

the development of a single badge of accreditation, which should be displayed on any advertising and marketing material of properties and services by landlords, letting agents and management agents, such as promotional material, websites and offices of the letting agents and management agents promotion to tenants by advice agencies and local authorities of the benefits of using landlords, letting agents and management agents that are accredited when advising tenants and prospective tenants about accessing private rented sector homes promotion of the London Rental Standard by consumer organisations links to the accreditation scheme on property search websites with the facility for adverts to indicate whether a landlord is signed up to the London Rental Standard promotion of the London Rental Standard at a range of events such as local authority landlord forums and events organised by accrediting organisations such as branch meetings.

Annex 1 Minimum defined standards for a training syllabus for landlords


Section 1 Pre-tenancy issues

Whos who landlord and tenant Landlord-agent relationship Permissions required Energy performance certificates Insurances Income tax and other tax issues Council tax Where to get information Landlord associations Accreditation and continuous professional development Common law implied terms Statutorily implied terms HHSRS o hazards o process o enforcement Specific issues o condensation o gas safety

Section 2 Responsibilities and liabilities

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

o electrical equipment and installation o furniture o fire safety o energy performance certificates (EPCs) o the Green Deal Houses in Multiple Occupation o Planning permissions o HMO types o HMO household o HMO self contained o Management regulations o Licensing mandatory/additional o Selective/enforcement Discrimination Types of tenancies Tenancy agreement types Tenancy options Rent Referencing and vetting tenants Tenant application o Taking references o Alternatives to doing it yourself o Giving references o Guarantors o Unfair terms Deposits Housing Benefit Utilities Move in summary What to do during the tenancy Changing tenancy terms Tenant wants to leave Managing rent arrears Anti-social behaviour Maintaining records How to end the tenancy Termination by landlord Grounds for possession Section 21 notice/restrictions Service of documents Accelerated possession Non-Housing Act tenancies Unlawful eviction Harassment Termination by the tenant Move out - summary Read meters Check inventory Outstanding bills Refund of deposits

Section 3 Setting up a tenancy

Section 4 During the tenancy

Section 5 Ending a tenancy

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

Section 6 Other

Verification tests Update landlords on what happens next including when to expect certificates and continuous professional development reminder

Annex 2 Minimum defined standards for a training syllabus for agents


Section 1 Pre-tenancy issues Whos who landlord and tenant Landlord-agent relationship Permissions required Energy performance certificates Insurances Income tax and other tax issues Council tax Where to get information Landlord associations Accreditation and continued professional development Common law implied terms Statutorily implied terms HHSRS Hazards Process Enforcement Specific issues Condensation Gas safety Electrical equipment and installation Furniture Fire safety Energy performance certificates The Green Deal Houses in Multiple Occupation Planning permissions HMO types HMO household HMO self-contained Management regulations Licensing mandatory/additional Selective/enforcement Discrimination Types of tenancies Tenancy agreement types Tenancy options Rent Referencing and vetting tenants Tenant application Taking references Alternatives to doing it yourself Giving references Guarantors Unfair terms Deposits

Section 2 Responsibilities and liabilities

Section 3 Setting up a tenancy

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THE MAYORS HOUSING COVENANT: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners

Section 4 During the tenancy

Housing Benefit Utilities Move in summary What to do during the tenancy Changing tenancy terms Tenant wants to leave Managing rent arrears Anti-social behaviour Maintaining records How to end the tenancy Termination by landlord Grounds for possession Section 21 notice/restrictions Service of documents Accelerated possession Non-Housing Act tenancies Unlawful eviction Harassment Termination by the tenant Move out - summary Read meters Check inventory Outstanding bills Refund of deposits Contracts Terms of business Employment contracts Agent with landlord Agent with tenant Agents duties to landlord Agents duties to tenant Landlords obligations Tenants obligations Handling of client monies (to include client money accounts, and client money protection) Before start Viewings Paperwork with tenant Financial and other considerations FSA general insurance requirements Finance Act Proceeds of Crime Act Money laundering Vicarious liability Verification tests What next, including distribution of certificates Reiteration of continuous professional development requirement

Section 5 Ending a tenancy

Section 6 General law concepts, statute v contract Section 7 Relationships Section 8 Obligations

Section 9 Process

Section 10 Considerations for corporate tenants

Section 11 Verification and close

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