How standards are checked

Numbers of properties inspected
Declaration and property list
P
rocedures governing verification visits and reports
Provision of formal documentation
The spirit of voluntary compliance
Re-inspections
Licensing issues
Verification timetable

Numbers of properties inspected

Last year (2013) Unipol inspected over 700 properties in Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham, making sure that they met the Code standards.  

Declaration and property list

To join the Code you, as a landlord/managing agent, are required to sign a declaration formalising your commitment to the Code and to provide Unipol with a full list of all properties you let to students.

Procedures governing verification visits and reports

Unipol will inspect (or verify) a sample of properties to ensure that your self-declaration is accurate. The following procedures will apply:

  • all new applicants for membership of the Code will have at least one property inspected before they are admitted. This will take place within 12 weeks of the application being made. Inspections will be carried out on a ratio of one in five properties.
  • in the case of agents a ratio of one in five properties belonging to each managed landlord is inspected, on the same timescales as above.
  • if the inspection/s reveals any problems, a higher sample of properties will be inspected and, in some cases, all proprieties will be inspected
  • inspections can also be triggered by any formal complaints
  • property inspections are carried out in a set format by trained staff and an inspection report is completed for each property. This report allows for recommendations to be made, including action plans that can be followed up. Membership may be recommended if work is required on an inspected property, depending on the extent of the non-compliance and the timescales agreed for the completion of any necessary work.

Provision of formal documentation

At the verification inspection suppliers must provide:

  • a current gas safety certificate
  • a current electrical periodic report
  • an HMO licence, if the property meets the mandatory licensing criteria or is located in an area of additional licensing
  • evidence that the fire alarm panel (if installed) is serviced on an annual basis
  • evidence that any deposits taken from tenants have been protected under one of the three approved deposit protection schemes
  • If Unipol has to chase this documentation (and membership is not granted until it is seen and checked), a charge applies to cover the administrative effort involved in this. Generally, it is easier either to have these documents at the verification visit or to bring them into Unipol where they can be checked while the applicant waits.

The spirit of voluntary compliance

Most inspections go well and the report received by the landlord/agent following the visit is generally regarded as helpful. An example of a completed verification report can be downloaded here. The verification process is intended to ensure that suppliers either meet the standards or can be helped to do so and the inspections are carried out in the spirit of voluntary compliance which underpins the Codes.

Re-inspections

For existing members covered by the Code, Unipol re-inspects one in five of their properties (or at least one in the event that a portfolio is below five) on a three-year cycle.

Licensing issues

In Leeds all matters relating to licensing are referred to Leeds City Council for consideration. If Unipol comes across any properties (accredited or not) which it thinks should be licensable, we will refer details to LCC for action.

Verification timetable

The landlord is asked to provide a timetable for any work required in the first section of the report.

This timetable should be provided within 14 days. This is not to say that the work itself is to be completed in 14 days, merely an appropriate timetable provided. Clearly issues relating to matters such as fire safety should be addressed with more urgency than less risky matters.

Once a timetable is agreed and the work completed, then depending on the nature of the findings, a re-inspection may be required. During this very short re-inspection, the verifier will check to ensure that the required work has been completed to the expected standard. If it is clear from the re-inspection visit that not all of the works have been completed, a second re-inspection will be required and a fee of £75 will be charged to the landlord/agent for that.