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Mayor’s accreditation scheme criticised despite ‘letting agent success’

After celebrating its year anniversary this week, Boris Johnson’s London Rental Standard has been criticised for signing up only 12% of the capital’s landlords. 

City Hall has revealed that as of May 2015, 14,350 private landlords have signed up to the Mayor’s scheme, which was introduced to encourage improved property conditions and quicker repairs and maintenance in London’s rented homes.

Johnson has previously pledged to sign up 100,000 landlords by May 2016 but Labour critics have argued that at the current rate, it will take ‘decades’ to hit this target.

The scheme has been endorsed by ARLA, RICS, NALS and UKALA, combining seven separate accreditation schemes under a single framework.

Letting agents and landlords that meet the criteria of the scheme are given an accreditation badge similar to those provided by redress schemes and client money protection firms. 

To gain accreditation, agents and landlords must attend a one-day course to learn, sign a code of practice and declare they are a fit and proper person.

The mayor’s office says that 331 letting agents managing over 120,000 properties have so far signed up. 

As recently as March it was reported that 307 agents had signed up to the scheme, managing over 115,000 properties. 

Many of London’s biggest agencies are said to have signed up including Foxtons, Douglas and Gordon, Savills and Stirling Ackroyd.

The deputy mayor of housing, Richard Blakeway, says the scheme has been a huge success. 

He said that the number of agents that signed up was the key reason for this as taking on just one single branch agency reaches an average of 200 homes. 

"This is a huge success in one year and we look forward to working with thousands more landlords and agents to help get a better deal for renters as this scheme grows," he said.

The London Assembly’s Labour representatives have labelled the London Rental Standard as a ‘flop’. 

The group says that of the 14,000+ landlords that have been counted as members, over 13,500 only come under the scheme after already being signed up to various other accreditation schemes. 

Therefore, Labour says, there have in fact been fewer than 1,000 landlords to actively join the scheme. 

"We need real change in the private rented sector. Londoners need the peace of mind and security of longer tenancy agreements, caps on rent increases and an end to no fault evictions,” said Labour’s Tom Copley. 

Richard Price, Executive Director of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA), says that a missed target does not make the scheme a failure. 

The focus, Price says, should be on the fact that the Standard has already reached over 100,000 homes across the capital in its first year, which should be broadly considered as a success. 

“It is an ambitious project and there is still more that needs to be done across the board to emphasise and communicate the benefits of becoming accredited as a landlord or agent,” Price adds. 

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    I, for one, think that it's a good idea. The fact that it has been endorsed by so many associations like ARLA, RICS etc stands for something. A lot of landlords have signed up and the criticism just seems like sour grapes from Labour to me..

    100,000 landlord by next year is a bit dreamy, but that's just Boris, isn't it?

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