17 Mar 2016

Housing and Planning

Rent with confidence where you see West of England Rental Standard logo

The first organisations have been accredited under a new voluntary scheme that aims to protect tenants.

The West of England Rental Standard sets out a minimum benchmark that landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector should reach.

In January, George Ferguson Mayor of Bristol invited organisations approving landlords and agents to apply to be accredited under the new standard.

The standard will help tenants rent with confidence, knowing that their landlord or agent is approved and should meet realistic standards.

Five organisations have been approved and their accredited agents and landlords will be able to use the rent with confidence logo.

The approved organisations are:

  • Bristol Association of Letting and Managing Agents
  • Bristol University Student Union Lettings
  • National Approved Letting Scheme
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • South West Landlords Association

 The scheme is run by Bristol City Council in conjunction with Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils and now also supported by Plymouth City Council.

Mayor Ferguson said: “The West of England Rental Standard is designed to set realistic standards that landlords and agents should comply with.

“It is great to welcome these significant organisations on board, and I am hopeful that many more will now follow their good example in the next round of accreditation. 

“It is vitally important that landlords and agents set a good example and give tenants a fair deal, no one should be forced to live in inadequate accommodation or to be subjected to unreasonable conditions.
 
“We must look out for the most vulnerable people in the city. Ensuring they have a safe, comfortable place to call home is a key part of this process.
 
“Our ambition is that landlords’ agents and tenants get to know about the scheme so we can improve accommodation across the region.”

The standard encourages landlords to do more than the legal minimum and is achievable for most landlords and letting agencies.
 
Victoria Thomas, Lettings Manager at Bristol Student Union Lettings, said: "Bristol Student Union Lettings are delighted to be collaborating with the council on this exciting scheme.

“Since our agency opened in 2013 we have made some meaningful strides in the improvement of private sector housing across the city for our students and the wider community. We understand the importance of good quality rental accommodation for students and that renting is now a long term option for many Bristol residents.

“We see the West of England Rental Standard as a hugely positive step in demonstrating that responsible letting agents and landlords are invested in improving the quality of private rented homes in Bristol.”

It is hoped that the scheme will protect tenants by recognising good landlords and agents and exposing poor ones.
 
It is a voluntary scheme, and does not replace the enforcement tools available to the council to make landlords comply with minimum standards.

Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of the National Approved Letting Scheme said: “We are delighted to be recognised as an approved body under the West of England Rental Standard.

“We welcome the recognition given to NALS agents and the strict criteria they meet in relation to customer service and consumer protection.”

Other organisations can still apply to be accredited and will be considered later this year. To find out more details please see www.westofenglandrentalstandard.co.uk