Leeds and Nottingham Codes: Changes to Verification Procedures


The Unipol Codes for shared student houses in Leeds and Nottingham have had a standardised verification approach that has remained unchanged for over a decade. Accredited landlords and managing agents have been required to declare 100 percent of their managed or owned properties meet Code standards. These properties have been inspected at a sample ratio of 1 in 5 every 3 years.

The outcome of this “one size fits all” approach is that a landlord with one property is inspected every 3 years (100% inspection rate) whilst a larger landlord or managing agent who is a full member with 100 properties has 20 properties verified (20%) in that same period. This has the effect of focussing verification resources on smaller low risk landlords, who through the nature of their portfolio tend to have higher rates of compliance and tenant satisfaction, leaving less time to focus on larger portfolio landlords where there is evidence of significant variations in standards.

From January 2023, Unipol will alter existing inspection ratios, to try and focus resources on properties which haven’t been inspected previously. Additionally, Unipol will refer to Rate Your Landlord reviews and customer feedback, to help to inform inspection ratios.

Changing Structure of Ownership and Membership

There has been a noticeable change in property ownership and management in Leeds and to a lesser extent in Nottingham over the last decade, with smaller landlords leaving accreditation as they sell up or hand management to agents. This can be seen in the Leeds membership: currently, approximately 75% of this stock managed by the 25 largest landlords. In Nottingham the ownership structure is slightly more skewed to smaller landlords, with the largest 25 landlords managing 61% of the stock.

To maintain choice for students and impact, the Unipol Codes need to continue to attract and engage with managing agents. However the way they are verified needs to change to ensure that the Codes continue to improve standards and target poor performance where it is known.

Evidence from the Rate Your Landlord Website in Leeds

The Leeds Rate Your Landlord website is now a well-used and credible source of data about landlord performance. The landlord rankings section, which is a dynamic listing compiled from the average of a landlords reviews on the site and updated monthly, can be seen here:


It is not a desirable outcome of the Codes that there should be accredited landlords who at the same time as managing to comply with membership requirements have poor student satisfaction and reputation evidenced by low average scores on the Rate Your Landlord site. A risk-based system will be balanced so that landlords with the highest RYL ratings are recognised with a comparatively lighter-touch approach, but still some in person checking to maintain the robustness of the system and consumer confidence. Those with troublingly low ratings would see a much higher rate of inspection, and for some mandatory training, until their reviews improved.

Unipol acknowledge that it may not be suitable to use the RYL average for smaller landlords where a single bad review could skew their average. At the other end of the scale, some very large landlords have relatively few reviews and their average is therefore not an accurate indication of quality or satisfaction.

New Inspection Ratios

The following approach is proposed, with an average score of 3.5 or more on Rate Your Landlord (RYL) being used as an indicator to guide verification:

Members with small portfolios (5 or less properties)
Verification may take place by landlord self-assessment and inspection on alternate 3 year membership cycles, on a ratio of 1 in 5. The member will be called to discuss the outcome of their self-assessment to maintain engagement, and the tenants encouraged to also complete a compliance survey by Unipol.

This would apply to landlords who met the following criteria:

  • have had continuous membership for at least 6 years
  • a good track record of compliance with 1 in 5 (20 percent) or their portfolio successfully inspected in the last 3 years.

Landlords not yet meeting this criteria will have an in person inspection of 1 in 5 properties every 3 years.

Members with medium sized portfolios (between 6 – 20 properties)
Members with slightly larger portfolios who meet the above requirements, and also have an average score of 3.5 or more on RYL may be verified by self-assessment on every alternate 3 year membership cycle on a ratio of 1 in 5. 

Where the average rating on RYL was 3.4 or lower, in person inspections will take place on a ratio of 1 in 5 every 3 years. Self-assessment may be offered for one or two of these inspections as a means of supporting understanding of the Code standards.

Members with portfolios of 21 or more
In person inspections will continue every 3 year membership cycle, with the ratio determined by the average score on RYL:

Average score               Inspection ratio
1.9 or less                     100 percent of properties inspected in person

2.0 – 3.4                       1 in 3 properties inspected in person for landlords and the same ratio                                              for properties by owner when managed by a managed agent

3.5 – 5.0                       1 in 5 properties inspected in person or by video

For larger members with lower ratings this will inevitably require a significant number of inspections, and it may be appropriate for these landlords to join the Supporters scheme, with progress reviewed at 6 monthly intervals until such time as their RYL ratings improve. 

Self-assessment could be offered on a small number of properties (where this exceeded no more than 10 percent of the total verification required), as means of supporting member understanding of the Code standards.

As there is no Rate Your Landlord system in Nottingham only minor changes are proposed with added use of self-assessment to improve member understanding of Code standards:

Members will be verified on a ratio of 1 in 4 inspections every 3 years. Self-assessment could be offered on a small number of properties (where this exceeded no more than 10% of the total verification required), as means of supporting member understanding of the Code standards.

A Note on Bradford

Because of the small numbers involved, all accredited properties are inspected every 3 years. Unipol is, however, exploring the possibility of rolling out Rate Your Landlord to PBSA suppliers.


The approaches proposed in Leeds and Nottingham increase targeted verification activity, and with RYL in Leeds will introduce a level of sensitivity to consumer views into the accreditation system that should improve the compliance and performance. These changes will be implemented from 1st January 2023.