We’re all familiar with landlord and letting agent accreditation schemes, but now there is to be a nationwide tenant accreditation scheme – backed by the UK Landlord Accreditation Scheme.
The aim is to help landlords and agents identify ‘good’ tenants beyond the usual tenancy referencing checks.
The official launch on March 1 of the UK Tenants Accreditation Scheme (UK TAS) follows a pilot study organised and monitored by the private sector housing team at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.
Southend was selected for the pilot as it has a large private rented sector and, discounting the London boroughs, is one of the ten most densely populated areas in the England.
Stuart Burrell, private sector enforcement officer at Southend, was the lead on the project.
He said: “The pilot for UK TAS came about after a series of discussions between colleagues and other agencies and with the working group of the UK Landlords Accreditation Partnership.
“We realised that whilst a great deal of attention and effort had been put into establishing accreditation schemes that were landlord and agent specific, there was not a national tenant accreditation scheme that offered the same style of incentives to the tenants with an emphasis on what rights a tenant has and their responsibilities towards their landlord and the property they are renting.
“In this competitive rental market, by completing the tenancy accreditation, it clearly shows that a tenant is willing to go the extra distance, not only to learn what is expected of them and to actively contribute towards a better understanding of the landlord and tenant relationship, but possibly the wider community, and certainly the neighbourhood.”
The Southend private sector housing team put out leaflets and posters in the area and attracted a range of residents from those who were working in the City through to the unemployed.
Each one had a number of reasons for attending, but the one common denominator was that they wanted to know how to make their tenant and landlord relationship work well.
They included Sarah Jameson, 25, who is employed in the City and who went on the course as she was looking for private rented accommodation.
Even though she is in full-time employment, she wanted to make sure that when she found a property, her application was viewed as favourably as possible.
She said: “It used to be that if you were working in the City you had a long-term career, but in recent years that has not been the case, and that uncertainty about jobs and careers has made some landlords nervous about single persons.
“I feel that the training course was beneficial as it helped me to understand where the boundary between my responsibilities as a tenant ended and those of my landlord began. I think it even helped my landlord have confidence in me, beyond his own checks, that here was a tenant willing to go that extra mile to show that I was a ‘good’ tenant.
“Even if you think that you know everything there is to know about being a tenant, there is something in this course that will surprise you.”
Frank Oatts, 18, currently unemployed and living with his parents, also says he benefited from the course.
He had recently had to move back home after he split with his girlfriend when their joint tenancy ended badly.
He felt he wanted to learn more and show he had learnt from his mistakes.
He said: “I found the course was very helpful. It covered many areas where I realised what I thought I knew was wrong. It also helped me realise that there are organisations out there that can offer help and support.
“I also found out about the benefits of using a landlord or agent registered with an accreditation scheme. You read or see so many negative stories about landlords and the accommodation that they manage, but knowing that these schemes exist helped me have confidence that if I do move out I can find another good landlord.”