Landlord accreditation schemes and courses are becoming much more common within the private rented sector. Indeed, the Rent Smart Wales scheme has made landlord training compulsory before it will grant any private sector landlord a licence in Wales. In other parts of the UK, local authorities increasingly encourage private sector landlords to undertake training and accreditation.
While landlord accreditation is not compulsory in most areas of the UK, growing numbers of landlords are taking advantage of its benefits. In this guide, we explore the different kinds of accreditation schemes and courses available, as well as their benefits for private sector landlords.
- What is a landlord accreditation scheme?
- Who offers training and accreditation courses for landlords?
- Why take a landlord course?
- What are the benefits of landlord training and accreditation?
- What is ‘condition of portfolio’?
- What landlord accreditation schemes can I choose from?
- How do I choose the right landlord accreditation scheme for me?
Landlord accreditation schemes provide landlords (and sometimes agents) with training and ongoing professional development. They give landlords training that covers the fundamental aspects of property management. Accreditation usually depends on completing this training and on agreeing to adhere to a code of conduct.
The purpose of landlord accreditation is to raise standards in the private rental market. Accredited landlords agree to uphold a variety of standards, ranging from the provision of safe accommodation, to efficient and fair communication with tenants.
Landlord accreditation schemes also offer continuing professional development (CPD) courses. These are designed to help landlords develop expertise in many different areas, from health and safety through to tax, property standards, and legal issues such as ending a tenancy.
Landlord training and accreditation is offered by a wide range of national and regional organisations. These range from UK-wide bodies such as the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) through to regional and local organisations. The latter includes landlords’ associations and local authorities, not to mention universities and colleges that run their own accreditation schemes. We have summarised the main providers you can choose from in this article.
There are three main reasons for taking a landlord course. The first is because landlord training can be a legal requirement for obtaining a licence to rent your properties – this is the case in Wales.
The second reason is that some landlords wish to join schemes in which local authorities rent out properties on their behalf. For example, Ealing Council requires landlords to be accredited before it will work with them in this way.
The final motivation for taking a landlord course is that it offers significant benefits to landlords themselves.
There are many benefits to undergoing landlord training and accreditation.
- Landlord training helps you to manage your properties more efficiently. You’ll have the knowledge you need to understand your responsibilities as a landlord. This will give you a better grasp of everything from health and safety obligations and the documents you need to give to your tenants, right through to fulfilling licensing regulations (where relevant) and making sure evictions comply with the law.
- If you are accredited by a recognised body it gives prospective tenants reassurance that you are a good landlord. This can make it easier to rent out your property.
- The continuing professional development (CPD) offered by some accrediting organisations helps you to fine-tune your skills as a landlord. Courses on topics such as Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, and managing rent arrears can also give essential knowledge for making your property portfolio more profitable.
- Some accreditation schemes offer a range of membership benefits. These can include everything from free legal updates and member forums through to webinars and discounted mortgage advice.
- Accreditation can ensure that you comply with the terms of your insurance. Landlord insurance policies stipulate that you must comply with your legal obligations. The right training will help you stay on the right side of the law and reduce the risk of inadvertently invalidating your policy.
Some accreditation schemes will ask to visit one or more of your rental properties to assess the ‘condition of portfolio’. This is to ensure that your properties are in good condition and safe places to live and that they meet the scheme’s standards (which are usually detailed in its code of practice).
There are dozens of different landlord accreditation schemes to choose from. The main types of scheme are listed below.
- UK-wide schemes. These include the Private Rented Sector Accreditation Scheme (PRSAS) and the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
- National schemes. In Wales, landlords must be accredited by Rent Smart Wales. In Scotland, Landlord Accreditation Scotland offers free training and accreditation. In Northern Ireland, landlords must register with the Landlord Registration Scheme. You don’t need training or accreditation to register, but landlords will find the Landlords Association of Northern Ireland (LANI) a useful resource and can undertake training offered by organisations such as Housing Rights.
- London scheme. In London, the main accreditation scheme is the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS). Some boroughs also run their own schemes, such as the Newham Landlord Accreditation Scheme.
- Regional schemes. Regional schemes include DASH Landlord Accreditation in the East Midlands, the Midland Landlord Accreditation Scheme, the Eastern Landlords Association and West of England Rent with Confidence Scheme.
- Local schemes. There are dozens of local accreditation schemes offered across England. These are often run by local authorities. Examples include the Oxford City Council Landlord Accreditation Scheme and Wakefield Council’s Responsible Landlords
- University and college schemes. Some higher education providers run their own schemes, designed to ensure their students can choose from good quality rented accommodation. However, many now rely on National Code accreditation that is offered by ANUK/Unipol.
Most accreditation schemes in the UK are members of the Accreditation Network UK (ANUK). This organisation publishes a national directory of accreditation schemes. You can also find a list of landlords’ associations here.
With so many accreditation schemes to choose from, it can be difficult to choose which one is the best for you.
The first thing you need to consider is location. If you are a landlord in Wales, you must register with Rent Smart Wales. This scheme offers its own training and accepts training from some third-party providers. In Scotland, you would normally seek accreditation from Landlord Accreditation Scotland.
Elsewhere in the UK, it’s easiest to ask your local authority which accreditation schemes they recognise. If you have a single rental property in a local council area, it may be simplest to join the council’s own or preferred scheme. If you have multiple properties in different areas, then it’s wise to find a regional or national scheme that’s accepted by all the relevant local authorities.
If you rent out student accommodation, then you need to find out which schemes are recognised by local colleges and universities. Failure to get the right accreditation will prevent you from marketing your properties through their student accommodation offices.
It’s also important to choose an accreditation scheme that offers training that’s relevant to your situation as a landlord. For example, you may be looking for training on successfully managing a block of flats or on letting out serviced accommodation.
Finally, you may want to choose an accreditation course based on your preferred learning style. Some schemes offer courses that can be completed in the classroom, online or even via distance learning.