Landlords and lettings agents in Bristol are being encouraged to apply for accreditation under the new West of England Rental Standard.
The voluntary scheme sets out a minimum standard that landlords and letting or management agents in the private rented sector should reach.
It creates a ‘kite mark’ so that tenants can be assured that the property and the landlord meet the standard.
The private rented sector in Bristol is growing rapidly, and demand is currently outstripping supply.
The new standard will help both landlords and tenants, and aims to provide a single badge of accreditation across the West of England, which should help provide a consistent standard across the region.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “I welcome adoption of this new standard for Bristol which aims to set decent but realistic conditions for landlords and agents to work to.
“Ultimately the council can step in and use its legal powers to enforce improved accommodation standards, but the aim is to help the private renting industry to regulate itself.
“The standard will help more landlords and agents understand their responsibilities to their tenants and equip them with the knowledge they need to protect themselves from mistakes.”
The standard encourages landlords to do more than just the legal minimum and is achievable for most landlords and letting agencies.
It is hoped that the scheme will protect tenants by exposing poor landlords and agents.
It is a voluntary scheme, and does not replace the enforcement tools available to the council to make landlords comply with minimum standards.
Councillor Brenda Massey, Assistant Mayor for People, said: “We want to make sure we can work together with landlords and agent accrediting bodies to enable tenants to access the best quality, affordable accommodation possible.
“The rental standard aims to safeguard tenants from poor landlords and agents, and will allow them to rent with more confidence. Therefore I would urge all landlord and agent organisations to apply as soon as possible.”
The West of England Rental Standard will replace a voluntary accreditation standard for rented accommodation that was agreed across the West of England some years ago.
Bristol City Council will administer the scheme on behalf of the four West of England authorities for an initial period of three years.
Organisations who accredit landlords and agents who operate in Bristol the West of England and beyond can now apply for accreditation by completing the application form available from West of England Rental Standard before February 12 2016.
The applications will be assessed and if landlords and agencies demonstrate that their membership requirements meet the standard they will be approved.
CEO of NALS, Isobel Thomson commented:
“We welcome this initiative to raise standards in the region. We are looking forward to becoming more involved and ensuring that both tenants and landlords have a positive experience of the private rented sector.
In a thriving market-place like the one Bristol is currently experiencing, there are more opportunities for rogue agents and unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of tenants and we will continue to work with Bristol County Council as the standard evolves”.
NALS is the National Approved Letting Scheme, a not for profit licensing scheme for lettings and management agents operating in the Private Rented Sector.