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Landlord accreditation scheme terms of reference

Introduction and aims of the scheme

We recognise the positive contribution of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and wish to coordinate and extend the support we provide to Accredited Landlords in the provision of professionally managed high quality rental accommodation.

Aims of the scheme are to:

  • commit to partnership working
  • encourage, acknowledge, raise awareness of and actively promote good standards and management practices in the PRS, and to assist landlords and tenants to undertake their respective responsibilities to each other
  • support landlords to increase the supply of good quality accommodation in the area, while reducing the number of empty, unused properties within the Borough
  • provide opportunities for partnership working, training, business development and networking
  • increase the percentage of decent homes in the Borough
  • enable tenants to obtain information about, and access to, better quality accommodation

This document provides you with direction and guidance to find detailed information on various topics in a format that we hope is easy to refer back to as and when queries arise. The information is consistent with current legislation and as agreed with landlords and other stakeholders involved in the development of the scheme, does not set property standards over and above statutory requirements.

Landlords who are welcomed onto the scheme are expected to commit to these Terms of Reference so please read through the information and keep this document for reference or contact the Private Sector Housing Accreditation Officer (PSHAO) with any queries.

We look forward to welcoming you as a member and confirming your access to all the membership benefits.

Benefits of membership

  • free property advertising and tenant shortlisting
  • member's tenants have access to the Bond Guarantee Scheme
  • discounts on HMO property licence fees
  • quick access to advice and assistance from housing professionals

Plus:

  • the right to display the accreditation logo on your company stationery and letterheads
  • opportunities for partnership working
  • special invitations to landlords' forums
  • provision of appropriate forms, including tenancy agreements
  • Certificate of Accreditation and the recognition that accreditation brings

 

Terms of Reference

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Responsibilities

  • actively promote the Landlords Accreditation Scheme
  • assist landlords to achieve accreditation status by offering advice on statutory requirements, property maintenance and repairs
  • commit to working in close partnership with landlords, tenants, local landlord associations, the Police, Fire Brigade and other key private rented sector stakeholders to achieve a vibrant private rented sector that is professionally managed and offers decent homes
  • provide incentives to encourage landlords to join the scheme
  • provide relevant information, including changes and likely pending changes in legislation by such means as landlord forums, email bulletins and local landlord associations
  • maintain a database of accredited landlords and properties covered by the scheme
  • consult with accreditation scheme stakeholders and act positively on feedback
  • administer and monitor the scheme including undertaking property inspections, consulting with stakeholders and checking the validity of relevant certificates
  • be responsible for the issue, administration, suspension and revocation of accredited status
  • on receipt of a completed application, ensure as far as reasonably practicable, that the landlord is responsible, competent and suitable to be a member of the Scheme

Accredited Landlord's Responsibilities

  • be committed to partnership working and work with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, (SBC) tenants, the Police, Fire Brigade, the UK Border Agency and other key stakeholders to achieve the aims of the Scheme
  • provide requested information for joining the scheme, including a full list of all properties that they own or manage in the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees in a timely manner
  • assist with access to properties to carry out inspections
  • have a written complaints procedure for tenants. Guidelines on how to set up a complaints procedure are available from the PSHAO
  • inform tenants, in writing, or as part of their tenancy agreement, of the responsibilities imposed on them by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Act 1998
  • advise the tenants that they should take out their own contents insurance
  • agree that as a landlord who owns properties bound by a tenancy agreement to manage the risk associated with asbestos and protect occupants and contractors visiting the property to carry out repairs all in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
  • working with the Council to address incidents of any illegal/criminal and anti-social behaviour, associated with your tenant/s and or property
  • working with the Council on future private sector improvement initiatives
  • ensure that all their properties meet the Stockton Rental Standard* and seeking support from the Private Sector Housing Team if you have any queries about your obligations as a private landlord

Stockton Rental Standard

Property standards

Landlords must ensure that their properties provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier or visitor. This includes, but is not limited to ensuring that the property is:

  • free from damp and has adequate natural or mechanical ventilation where necessary to control moisture levels.
  • provided with adequate thermal insulation and a suitable and effective means of space heating so that the dwelling space can be economically maintained at a reasonable temperature
  • free from hazards and provides a safe and secure home for your tenants 

More information is available on the government website 

Landlords must ensure that the property has adequate fire detection and where a gas or solid fuel appliance is present, adequate carbon monoxide detection 

Landlords must ensure that prescribed electrical safety standards are met and that every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested (by a qualified person) at least once every five years. For further information visit the Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector Gov.uk guide.

Any furnished properties must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

All properties should be provided in a clean decorative condition at the start of each tenancy.

Landlords should ensure that all gardens are in a clean and tidy state at the start of each tenancy.

Management standards

Landlords must comply with all relevant housing legislation and regulations, including but not limited to the following:

  • an annual gas safety inspection must be carried out in properties with gas installations. More information is available on the Landlords' responsibility for gas safety HSE webpage.
  • the property must have an Energy Performance Certificate; the rating should be "E" or better
  • any deposits taken must be protected under a government approved scheme.
  • correct legal procedures for possession must be followed in all cases.
  • tenants should be provided with a written tenancy agreement and written inventory at the start of a new tenancy. Model forms are availableĀ on the government website.
  • landlords must respond to any reported repairs in a timely and professional manner
  • landlords must give at least 24 hours written notice for access in all cases except where access is required in a genuine emergency
  • landlords should try to minimise void periods or when this is unavoidable are encouraged to contact the Private Sector Housing's Empty Homes Team for advice and assistance
  • landlords should always act in a fair, reasonable and professional manner in their dealings with tenants. You must not discriminate because of colour, ethnicity, disability, age, sex, or sexuality

Finally, landlords are reminded that safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is everyone's responsibility. Should you ever have any concerns regarding the health or well-being of a child or vulnerable adult please contact the Councils First Contact Team on 01642 527764 for advice and support.

Disciplinary matters and complaints

Whilst we will seek to resolve any complaints made against accredited landlords informally, any alleged breaches of the requirements of the Scheme will be investigated by the PSHAO, who will consider the nature of the breaches, any representations of the landlord, tenants and any other relevant parties and decide, if necessary, on any appropriate sanction.

Landlords who lose their accredited status following the decision of the PSHAO will be entitled to make an appeal against the decision to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Team Manager, Private Sector Housing. The appeal must be made in writing and will be considered and responded to within 21 days.

Similarly landlords wishing to make a formal complaint about the operation of the scheme can write to the Team Manager, Private Sector Housing. If the landlord is not satisfied with the outcome they may also consider utilising the Council's "Commendations, Comments & Complaints" Procedure.

Landlords who lose their accredited status will no longer be eligible for any of the benefits of the Scheme.

The PSHAO will consider the reinstatement of accreditation status if the landlord is able to demonstrate that following remedial action they are capable of meeting the requirements of the scheme.

Examples of specific breaches include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • formal enforcement of statute being taken against a member following a failure to comply with legislative requirements from any appropriate enforcement agency/ organisation
  • illegal eviction of tenants
  • fraudulent activities such as Housing Benefit fraud
  • active discrimination
  • failure to apply for a licence when required to do so for a mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme or selective licensing scheme as the case may be
  • criminal convictions that would make the landlord unsuitable to manage properties and tenancies

Queries and what next?

You will be contacted within 5 working days of your application to arrange viewings of your properties.

Upon successful completion of the viewings and/or the undertaking of any associated works as agreed between you and the PSHAO, we will issue your Membership Certificate with details on how to access all the benefits of membership.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding any of the items covered in this document, please contact the PSHAO to discuss. Our aim is to work in partnership with you to ensure you are supported to fulfil your business aims and responsibilities as a landlord.

We look forward to welcoming you as a member.

Private Sector Housing
Stockton Borough Council
16 Church Road
Stockton-on-Tees
TS18 1TX

01642 528533
privatesectorhousing@stockton.gov.uk

Data Protection

The personal data provided to the Landlord Accreditation Scheme is for the purposes of making an application to join, and if successful remain a member of the Scheme.

"Any personal information provided on this form will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and used solely for the purpose for which you provide it. This information will be destroyed when it is no longer required for this purpose. For more information on how we use your personal data please view our Privacy Notice on our website."

The information provided to and held by the Landlord Accreditation Scheme may be made available to other Council departments, partner agencies, and the police for the purposes of verifying the information provided and to check for any conflicts, breaches of legislation, or breaches of the Landlord Accreditation Scheme's Code of Standards.