About the scheme
- What is the PAL accreditation scheme?
PAL is a landlord and property accreditation scheme that aims to improve the standard of privately rented accommodation in Welwyn Hatfield. The free and voluntary scheme recognises agents and landlords that meet their legal obligations and those that go above and beyond to provide quality homes.
- Who operates the PAL scheme?
PAL was founded by the University of Hertfordshire and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC). The scheme operates from Campus East Welwyn Garden City.
- What are the benefits of being an accredited partner?
PAL offers agents many benefits of being an accredited partner including: public recognition, advice and training, free promotion and referrals for prospective tenants from WHBC, University of Hertfordshire and PAL supporters. Being PAL accredited will give tenants and landlords confidence in your property management and help you stand out from the competition.
- Who can be accredited?
Any letting or managing agent operating in Welwyn Hatfield can become an accredited partner, providing they are abiding by all relevant legislation. Landlords can apply to become accredited landlords. Other organisations that support the scheme can apply to become PAL supporters.
- How do we become accredited?
To become an accredited partner, you need to complete our application form and you and relevant staff need to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test. You will need to commit to follow the PAL Rental Property Standards for HMOs or single occupancy properties and meet with us to review your management practices.
- How long does it take to become accredited?
Accreditation can be obtained within four weeks if you are able to submit the relevant documentation promptly and we are confident that your management practices and properties meet the required standard.
- Who is a fit and proper person?
A fit and proper person is someone who has not committed any offences or had actions taken against them as detailed in the Housing Act. Convictions for harassment, discrimination and legal orders may disqualify an applicant.
- What is the Code of Practice?
It is a declaration which all PAL members sign as part of the application process, committing themselves to managing and maintaining their properties and tenancies to the standards set out in the PAL Rental Property Standards and meeting all their legal requirements. It also requires agents to act in a manner not to bring the scheme into disrepute.
- What are the PAL Property Rental Standards?
The PAL Property Rental Standards for HMOs and single occupancy properties outline the requirements which your properties need to meet to ensure they are legally compliant, which is the basic principle of the PAL accreditation scheme. They also outline the supplementary requirements required for ‘gold accredited properties’.
- What happens during the review meeting?
The purpose of the review meeting is for us to gain confidence that your management procedures and standard documentation meet all legal requirements and therefore are compliant with PAL standards.
- How long does accreditation last?
Accreditation lasts for three years. After that, accreditation status will be renewed as long as you have conformed to the PAL Code of Practice and Property Rental Standards throughout, accredited the minimum number of properties, your relevant signatory is still fit and proper and you are up to date with relevant legislation.
- What happens if I fail the application?
If you are unable to complete the accreditation process, we will discuss the reasons why with you. If you need to make changes to your property management processes or your properties, or obtain further paperwork, we will agree a timetable for these activities with you. If these issues are overcome you can then go on to become an accredited agent.
Benefiting from the scheme
- How can I keep up to date with legislation?
WHBC provides training courses, information forums and other resources to help you keep up to date; some of these are only accessible to accredited agents and landlords. We also have a legal advice helpline available to accredited agents and landlords which you can use if you need clarification on any legal matters.
- How do I accredit properties?
The accreditation process requires you to inspect the property, gain feedback from the tenants, collate all relevant documentation such as gas safety certificate and tenancy agreement, and fill out a property inspection form.
- What are the benefits of accrediting properties?
By accrediting your properties, you will give tenants confidence that their home meets all legal requirements and is in good repair, helping you to attract good tenants. You will be able to offer your landlords the accreditation as a benefit of your services, making you stand out from your competition. You will also be able to advertise accredited properties for free on our website.
- Can I accredit properties that I let only?
Accredited partners can only accredit properties they manage. Where properties are with agents as ‘let only’, the landlord would need to gain accreditation.