We have a new voluntary accreditation scheme launched for student accommodation. This is a collaboration between the website service Accommodation for Students and the student charity Unipol, and is supported by the National Union of Students.
It sounds pretty good.
The scheme in a nutshell
- First the landlords have to commit to the code of practice (this document also sets out how the scheme works in detail), join the scheme for three years and pay a fee.
- Landlords then have to do a course of study which is provided by online modules and tested by an online multiple choice test. Once they have passed each module they get a certificate.
- A selection of the landlords properties then get a physical inspection. 1:3 for landlords with 10 or less properties and 1:5 for landlords with 11 or more properties
- Landlords are provided with a report after inspection and if there are any problems are given these as ‘action points’ with a time limit to get them sorted
- Once the landlord is fully accredited he will get a certificate and marketing material.
The scheme is designed to fit in with other accreditation schemes and where a landlord is already a member of another scheme this will be taken into account in the accreditation process and fees paid.
The scheme is aimed fairly and squarely at students, many of whom are forced to rent on the open market. It is hoped that this scheme will provide standards which students can trust and make the process easier for them. Many students have had problems with rogue landlords and this scheme will make it easier for them to be avoided.
Although with the general shortage of property at present I suspect that there will not be enough afs/unipol accredited properties to meet the demand.
I would have thought also that a better name could have been made for this scheme. Afs/Unipol does not trip off the tongue easily and many people won’t have a clue what Afs or Unipol are. No doubt they are better known among the student community though so maybe it will work.
The patchwork quilt
However good this scheme is though, it is still another in a complex mix of different schemes operation in different ways in different parts of the country. I hope that this scheme will work, and it sounds as if it will provide the best protection going for student tenants.
However when there are a number of different schemes, all working in different ways, it cannot help but be confusing for the public.
I suppose in an ideal world there would be one single mandatory code which ALL landlords would have to comply with as a condition of being able to let at all, and then additional schemes (such as this one) could build on that and provide extra guarantees of quality.
However that is not going to happen, not for a long time anyway, so this scheme is to be commended.