Accredited property scheme
The aims of the accredited property scheme are to encourage, acknowledge and actively promote good standards of privately rented accommodation, and to assist landlords and tenants to undertake their respective responsibilities to each other.
This page will assist in giving you a broad understanding of the scheme.
We hope the information provided will enable you to make a positive decision to join us in the scheme. If you do wish to proceed further please make an appointment to meet us.
Categories and standards
For the accredited property scheme:
An application for accreditation must be under one of the following five categories and a property must comply with the relevant standard for that Category.
Houses occupied as individual rooms, bedsits and flatlets which are considered to have a number of rooms for exclusive occupation, not necessarily behind one door, with some sharing of amenities usually a bathroom and/or toilet and maybe a kitchen. In such a house each occupancy would be separately rented.
Houses occupied on a shared basis. This type is found most commonly amongst students, but is increasingly formed by groups of people coming together in the house who share certain amenities as they wish but can have individual facilities, such as a bedroom.
Category C (lodgings)
Houses let in lodgings, i.e. catering for lodgers on a small scale but not living as part of the main household normally with a resident owner/occupier. This is the traditional 'houses let in lodgings' where meals are provided in a dining room and would be typified by a family or household who might take in a small number of students or other individuals away from their primary place of residence.
Category D (hostels/bed & breakfasts)
Houses generally referred to as 'hostels', 'guesthouses', 'bed and breakfast accommodation'. They will provide accommodation for people with no other permanent place of residence as distinct from a hotel, which provides accommodation for visitors to the area for a short time
Category E (Registered homes/hostels)
Houses, which are hostels and require registration under the Registered Homes Act 1984. These residential homes provide board and personal care for persons in need of such care by reason of old age, disablement, past or present dependence on alcohol or drugs, or past or present mental disorder.
Category F (Self-contained flats)
Most houses or buildings which by erection or conversion contain dwellings which are self contained and all such dwellings comprising accommodation which is behind one access door off a common area. The dwellings would normally contain all the standard amenities although it would be possible for some to be unimproved self-contained flats lacking one or more standard amenities. There would be no sharing of amenities with occupiers of other dwellings.
Houses, which are occupied by a single family.
Frequently asked questions
What is the accredited property scheme?
It is a scheme for private landlords, designed to recognise good quality privately rented accommodation.
Is it run by the council?
Yes. It has been set up and will be run by the council’s housing service from the customer service centre at Morecambe town hall.
Is it voluntary?
Yes. Like all local authorities the council has legal powers to deal with sub-standard accommodation. This scheme is concerned to highlight those properties at the other end of the spectrum – privately rented houses of a decent standard, which are well managed and maintained. Membership is by choice and will give the landlords of these accredited properties access to a package of scheme benefits.
How does it fit in with licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)?
All HMOs with three or more storeys and five or more occupants must be licensed by the local authority to operate. Accreditation is designed to work alongside licensing to promote high standards in all types of rented accommodation not just HMOs.
Licensed HMOs will still have to make an application for accreditation, but the cost will be included in their licensing fee.
How does the scheme work?
Interested landlords are sent an information pack, which includes the expected physical and managerial standards for their property type. No property address is taken. Alternatively, if preferred, an informal visit is made at this stage so that the scheme and information pack can be discussed in person. Once the decision is made to join the scheme the application form is filled in and returned. A survey and some management checks are then undertaken, to conform eligibility, and the whole membership pack is issued.
Does the scheme apply to all types of rented property, and are the standards strict?
Yes, the scheme covers all types of property – from single houses, to flats and bed-sits. The standards are derived from legislation and are thus the ordinary decent standards. The clear majority of property will therefore probably automatically comply with them.
What are the benefits to the landlord?
It is expected that accredited status will bring landlords general benefits, including:
- An edge over other providers in attracting new tenants
- An enhanced image with potential lenders
- A lower turnover of tenants (and therefore savings on re-letting and void costs)
- A decrease in abuse of the property
Scheme benefits from scheme membership include:
- Positive publicity (with certification and logos provided for display, posters, leaflets, and regular adverts to increase scheme awareness)
- Entry onto the scheme database, and a referrals service (provided direct to respective tenants or through other organisations looking on their behalf) on notification of vacancies
- Advice on tenancy matters
- Advice on particular requirements for furnished tenancies
- Access to preferential arrangements for property insurance
- Members directory (and inclusion if requested)
- Membership of and invitation to meetings of the Accredited Property Scheme Landlords’ Forum (which informs and updates members on new developments for private renting, provides expert speakers, and offers you a chance to influence council policy)
- A tenancy mediation service, to help you resolve and problems as they arise and hopefully prevent them from becoming a crisis
- Access to benefit-related training where appropriate (via the Landlords' Forum)
What are the advantages to the council of the scheme?
The advantages for the council are that the scheme provides a mechanism for contacting and canvassing the opinions of landlords, and also helps through the self-certification process to clear some officer time for other activities, such as enforcement. Finally it also enables the council to provide more definite help to the many individuals and agencies who contact us to request information on and/or direct referrals to the private rented sector.
Is there a fee involved?
Yes. This has been kept to a minimum, with both the council and the Single Regeneration Budget helping to support the scheme financially. However a condition of Regeneration funding is that there must also be a certain contribution from the private sector, although this is to be used entirely to support and further the scheme.
Accordingly a one-off fee at £59.30 per dwelling is charged (this in effect comes straight back to landlords via the cost of producing the membership packs etc alone).
The £59.30 fee is included in the cost of an HMO licence where applicable.