A group of renters who have formed the Acorn group in Bristol - which has already held protests against letting agents - has now unveiled what it calls an ‘ethical lettings charter’.
This is apparently the result of consultations with agents, landlords and tenants, and will lead to the nomination of letting agencies with the ‘status‘ of an Acorn Gold, Silver or Bronze awards. The group claims also to be organising an accreditation system which it wants letting agents to sign up to.
To reach Bronze status agents have to agree to use “recurring ASTs as default in place of periodic tenancies (except where the tenant request a periodic tenancy)” and conduct repairs according to legal requirements.
No more than six weeks’ deposits will be taken and tenancy deposit schemes will be used and mandatory national and/or local authority health and safety inspections, paperwork and licensing will be respected.
In a more self-serving requirement, however, Acorn insists a Bronze letting agent agrees: “I will publicise Acorn and other tenant advocates to my tenant.”
To win Silver status the letting agent must “commit to promoting the benefits of longer ASTs of 12 months or longer” - actually less than proposed under Labour’s election pledges - and commit to a “siz month trial period during which tenancy fees will not be charged.”
It also wants a minimum EPC rating of E to be “encouraged” by letting agents. Once again this status involves a plug for Acorn - agents must “commit to working with” the organisation.
Finally the Gold status involves a specific requirement: “To ensure the security of each tenant in the event that a property is shared by people unknown to each other, we will encourage landlord client to provide each household with an individual AST to avoid responsibility for an entire property falling on the shoulders of a single person.”
Gold letting agents must not charge any tenants any fees and must agree to “educate potential landlord clients about property investment from the perspective of gaining ethical and sustainable returns.”
The document lists support from individual Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green prospective parliamentary candidates - but does not list any lettings agent in support.