AfS/ Unipol Tribunal System

Tribunal hearings are normally held in the relevant town/city that the property (subject to the complaint) is situated in.

The Tribunal and parties to the dispute will follow procedures made public on the web.

The Tribunal Chair is appointed by Unipol, following advice from the Steering Group together with two Vice-Chairs who are appointed by the steering group to serve for three years.

The Tribunal meets annually for training purposes. At that meeting members will receive a report from the Chair of the Tribunal on any cases where Chair's action has been taken during that year, for informal discussion and comment by the Tribunal.

The Tribunal comprises:

·      an independent Chair

·      a student Vice-Chair

·      a landlord Vice-Chair

·      a representative from ASRA

·      a representative from NUS

·      a representative from the Accreditation Network UK (ANUK)

Representative from the students’ union, the education institution and the local authority (if they wish to be involved) from the area from where the complaint originates will be invited to attend .

The current fixed membership is :

Chair
John Martin (Barrister)

Student Vice-Chair
Pete Mercer NUS (or their nominee)

Landlord Vice-Chair
Raj Patel

ASRA representative
Michael Ball

NUS representative
Sarah Wayman

ANUK representative
To be confirmed

A representative from the local authority's environmental health department, the local students' union and the local education institution (from the town/city where the complaint originates from are nominated before the Tribunal hearing from where the complaint originates) are also invited to attend the Tribunal.

Standing Orders

Signing the AFS/Unipol Code and public accountability
Adoption of the AFS/Unipol code by a landlord is voluntary. Signatories to a Code who fail to comply with its provisions risk this fact being made known to prospective tenants. Repeated breaches of the terms of the Code are formally displayed to prospective tenants. (This may include publication.)

Details of any complaints that are sustained by the Tribunal are made available for public view on the website. Results from the verification process which identify significant non-compliance, or a warning or temporary suspension given by the Audit Panel are also placed in the public domain.

The Tribunal

Attendance
At least one member present must be a student (or a member of a student representative organisation) and the quorum shall be three.

Landlords and tenants involved in the case before the Tribunal are invited to attend. If the complainant and the respondent have difficulty attending the same meeting, every effort will be made, where possible, to allow each party a separate hearing before the Tribunal.

No legal representatives are allowed at the Tribunal for either landlord or tenant. Each party is entitled to being accompanied or represented by a lay person.

Time limits on convening hearings
Tribunal hearings must be heard within three months of the Tribunal procedure being triggered, but preferably no longer than one month after the trigger. If either the landlord or the complainant cannot attend within three months then the hearing will take place in the absence of that party.

Potential conflicts of interest
Any member of the Tribunal with a potential conflict of interest in a case before the Tribunal is required to declare it before the case is heard. The Chair shall decide whether that member should take part in that appeal hearing or not. In the event of a tie the Chair shall have a casting vote.

Decision-making powers
The Tribunal may make recommendations to all statutory bodies, education institutions and all other appropriate parties. In the event that a complaint from a student turns out to be malicious, a Tribunal is likely to refer the student to their education institution with a recommendation for formal disciplinary proceedings.

The Tribunal can also recommend that:

·      a warning letter is issued

·      the failure to meet standards set within the appropriate Code is published

·      a further compliance check is undertaken or conditions are attached to continued membership

·      an owner’s entire portfolio or an individual development is suspended from the Code for a specified period of time

·      a member is expelled from the Code

The Tribunal is not empowered to make any monetary awards, although certain clauses in the Code relating to building works carry financial obligations to tenants.

Any decision of the Tribunal will be confirmed in writing.

The decision of the Tribunal is final.

Although any of these bodies may review an earlier decision in the light of additional information there is no appeal system.

Membership

Two representatives nominated by each of the following organisations:

·      Unipol Student Homes

·      the Association of Student Residential Accommodation (ASRA)

·      the National Union of Students (NUS)

·      Accommodation for Students (AfS)

One representative nominated by each of the following organisations:

·      The Residential Landlords Association (RLA)

·      Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)

The Steering Group shall appoint a Chair from its membership by simple majority vote of members present at a quorate meeting. The Chair is appointed for a period of three years from the day following the Panel’s decision.

Quoracy is set at 4 members

The Panel is serviced by the Unipol/AFS Code Administrator and meets twice a year (more frequently if necessary).