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Mayor and council back anti-letting agent group's new 'charter'

The newly-elected mayor of Bristol and the city’s council have endorsed a so-called ethical lettings charter created by a group known for its past anti-letting agency statements.

Mayor Marvin Rees has backed ACORN’s Ethical Lettings Charter, described by the Labour authority as aiming to improve the management and standards of all rented homes in the city, especially those owned by private landlords.

It calls for lower costs and fees for renters, more secure tenancies, safer, healthier homes, and a more professional property market.

“Working closely with ACORN and other organisations, we want to make sure that tenants are involved in the important conversations that need to be had about housing in the city.

By endorsing the Ethical Lettings Charter we are sending a clear message to landlords in the city that poor accommodation and conditions will not be tolerated” Rees had told the Bristol Evening Post. 

“And we are continuing to work with ACORN to establish a single standard for all rented homes across the city, bringing together the ACORN scheme and the Council’s own enforcement and advisory standards into a common approach” Rees adds. 

The council first backed the charter back in October last year, since when it has been strengthened. 

The charter has Gold, Silver or Bronze status for agents. To reach Bronze 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.

To win Silver status the letting agent must “commit to promoting the benefits of longer ASTs of 12 months or longer” and commit to a “six 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. 

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.”

In the past, there have been various protests outside and against individual agents’ offices in the city.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Eh? So most of this is a pledge to apply by the laws and regulations already in place......wouldnt Bristol be better of, rather than backing a new organisation and yet another 'charter' actually pledging to employ a team of people to enforce the laws and standards in place both in terms of property standards, rental regulations and agency compliance? Or is that just too obvious?!
    Whats also concerning is the expectation of longrer tenancies with no fees to tenants. As seen in Scotland the removal of any Tenant fees places the burden on cost of the Landlord driving up rents to cover these costs- ultimately costing the Tenant considerably more although spreading this out over the contractual period.
    Just because Tenants want more for less doesnt mean it should be agreed to- or that it even can.

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