Relaunch of rental standard across the West of England
Bristol City Council, along with other councils in the West of England, has relaunched a scheme that aims to help people find good quality rented accommodation in the city and surrounding areas.
Rent with Confidence is a voluntary scheme that aims to protect tenants by setting out a benchmark for landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector.
The scheme will help tenants rent with confidence, knowing that their landlord or agent is approved and should meet realistic standards. Representatives from landlord, agents and tenant groups worked closely together to agree a standard which includes ethical letting principles.
This included meeting Bristol City Council’s commitment to integrate ACORN’s Ethical Letting Scheme Bronze level standard into the previous West of England Rental Standard.
Other additions to the scheme include a section on tenant responsibilities and new incentives for accredited landlords.
Seven organisations have been approved and their accredited agents and landlords will be able to use the scheme logo and marketing material.
The approved organisations are:
• Bristol Association of Letting and Managing Agents
• Bristol University Student Union Lettings
• South West Landlords Association
• National Landlord Association (accredited members only)
• Residential Landlords Association (accredited members only)
• Consider Rate
• National Landlords Code of Excellence
The scheme is run by Bristol City Council in conjunction with Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils and has also been supported by Plymouth City Council.
Councillor Paul Smith, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, said: “We have worked hard to combine our existing rental standard with some of ACORN’s key ethical principles, to create a standard that should really help to protect tenants across the West of England.
“The scheme aims to encourage responsible landlords and agents to do more than the legal minimum and is achievable for most landlords and letting agencies. The standard also recognises that tenant’s should meet their responsibilities and co-operate with reasonable requests from their landlord.
“We appreciate that most landlords want to their best for their tenants, and this standard will give renters confidence that their property should meet acceptable standards.
“The Rent with Confidence scheme helps recognise responsible landlords and agents, and compliments the enforcement action taken by the council against criminal landlords and agents.”
It is hoped that the scheme will protect tenants by recognising good landlords and agents and exposing poor ones.
Nick Ballard, ACORN organiser, said: “This is a great step forward for private tenants across the South West. It will introduce protection from revenge evictions and from exploitative and insecure short-term contracts and limit rent increases at a time when rents in Bristol continue to rise alongside and tenants continue to suffer from the effects.
“ACORN is proud to have influenced these changes and looks forward to building on this base in the future to ensure decent, dignified and secure living conditions for all tenants.”
It is a voluntary scheme, and does not replace the enforcement tools available to the council to make landlords comply with minimum standards.
Tim Gibbs, National Landlords Association representative for the South West, said: “The National Landlords Association (NLA), the UK’s largest landlord association for the private rented sector, is delighted to help promote this important regional standard, which is entirely consistent with the practices already used by accredited NLA members.
“Clearly stated and adopted responsibilities, for both landlord and tenant, are fundamental to safe, healthy, and fair tenancies.”
Other organisations can now apply to be accredited. To find out more details please see www.westofenglandrentalstandard.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org