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The Pavilion Gold Standard

October 15, 2016 by Ololade Adedayo

Ensuring high standard private student accommodation lettings in Coventry with the pavilion gold standard

We choose to only work with landlords who have similar priorities to ourselves when it comes to providing safe, secure and quality student accommodation. We use the Unipol Code of Standards which includes the basic legal requirement for UK landlords and buy to let investors as a recognised starting point. We would expect all of our Student Accommodation to meet this standard as a minimum. However, at Student Pavilion, we are interested in providing more than the bare minimum. Those that think like us are often rewarded with higher rents, fewer voids and better quality tenants who stay on for longer through their study.

If you have a residential property within close walking proximity/a bus ride to the University that you would like us to market, we would require the following items:

Statutory legal requirements

All gas appliance must be checked and certified by a corgi-registered plumber at least once a year and at any change of tenancy. You should also display a valid certificate in the property. Warning: you can be sent to prison for not doing this!

All soft furnishings should bear the label described below. Failure to do so constitutes a criminal offense under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which carries a maximum penalty of £5,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.
(a) CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE
(b) Batch/ID No DF 1234
To comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
(c) This article does not include a Schedule 3 interliner
(d) All foams, fillings and composites have been tested to ensure compliance with the relevant ignitability test. All covers and fillings have been tested to ensure that they are cigarette resistant. All covers have been tested to ensure that they are match resistant.
There should be a fire blanket in close proximity to the cooker.

Also there should be smoke alarms on landings, stairwells and in hallways. Where there is a feature on the ceiling that impedes the flow of smoke across the ceiling, the smoke alarms should be placed on both sides of the impeding feature. There should be a heat sensor on the kitchen ceiling. All smoke alarms and the heat sensor should be run off the mains and be interlinked so that when one is set off, the others are also activated. They should also contain rechargeable batteries that are trickle-fed from the mains so that in the event of a power cut, the alarm system still works. New battery powered wireless interlinked products with 10 years life span have now come into the market that are as good as mains powered which are an installation advantage for older properties.

Fire door provision is also a legal requirement only if your rental property is a House in Multiple Occupation. Please check the Coventry City Council for the HMO guide/licence for your property type. https://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/22/business_and_markets_licensing/701/houses_in_multiple_occupation_licence/2

Does your electrical installation have sufficient RCD protection?
Does your electrical installation have B-rated breakers?
Does your electrical installation have satisfactory earthing arrangements?
Does your electrical installation have satisfactory protective bonding arrangements?
Does your electrical installation have covers in place or replaced casings to prevent fingers coming into contact with live parts e.g broken or damaged switches and sockets?
Are there enough sockets for electrical appliances/portable electricals, to minimise the use of multi-way socket adapters and trailing leads?

Applicable legislation:
* The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, section 8 & 11
* Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984
* The Building Regulations for England and Wales 2005 amendment to include Part P, which covers electrical safety in dwellings.

The government is pretty loud and clear about electrical safety in its legislation and therefore puts a legal duty on landlords to ensure that their rental property, and any electrical installation/equipment provided, is safe before a tenancy begins and throughout its duration. All the legislation care about is simply “safety” which can be seen as broad and not so clear cut in say for instance type of metering/boards landlords are to use, however organisations such as Electrical Safety First, have devised landlord best practice guide to ensure as far as reasonably practicable Landlords meet all electrical installation requirement and cover every part concerning “safety” of tenants in the legislation.

An electrical installation comprises all the fixed electrical equipment that is supplied through the electricity meter in a property. It includes the cables that are usually hidden in the walls and ceilings, accessories (such as sockets, switches and light fittings), and the consumer unit (fusebox) that contains all the fuses, circuit-breakers and, preferably residual current devices (RCDs)*

Great Britain has a relatively good record of electrical safety but the most recent figures available show that in a typical year: • Around 20 people will die as a result of electrocution and/or fatal electric burns suffered at home. • There will be approximately 20,000 accidental electrical fires in homes, resulting in around 50 deaths and 3500 injuries.

As Landlord you should make every effort that It better not be in your property an incident occurs in such as the statistics. In order to ensure a Landlord has all ends covered he/she must have an inspection and testing done on their electrical installation to ensure its legal, fit for purpose and has safeguarding mechanisms installed in mitigating any eventuality.

An RCD (residual current device) BS 7671:2008(2013) for example is as such a safeguarding mechanism, simply put it’s a life-saving device which is designed to prevent you or your tenants from getting a fatal electric shock arising from faulty installation or due to wear and tear, It provides a level of protection on your circuits that ordinary fuses or circuit breakers cannot provide. If your installation is lacking then you should replace all the fuses with Residual current operated circuit-breaker with integral overcurrent protection (RCBO) or just get another consumer unit distribution board fitted. As much as keeping your tenants safe it will comply with new buy to let and building insurance criteria imposed by some lenders and insurers.

Also all bedrooms and sitting rooms should have two double electrical sockets and kitchen should have three double sockets.

This is a legal requirement only if your rental property is a House in Multiple Occupation. Please check the Coventry City Council for the HMO guide/licence for your property type. https://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/22/business_and_markets_licensing/701/houses_in_multiple_occupation_licence/2

We strongly advise however that you commision regular electrical test on all electrical installations. All electrical circuits in the property should be tested and certificated with a ‘periodic report’ every five years and a full re-wire need not be inspected for ten years. Once completed an Electrical Condition Report (EICR) is issued.

The safety of electrical appliances relies, to some extent, on the condition of the home’s fixed wiring – but misusing electrical appliances will increase the risk of electric shock and fire.

If you provide appliances (such as a cooker, kettle, iron or washing machine) for your tenant(s) you should check that the item carries, at least, a CE Mark – the manufacturer’s claim that it meets the minimum requirements of EU legislation. Electrical Safety First recommends the purchasing of appliances that carry additional safety marks, such as the British Standard Kitemark or the ‘BEAB Approved’ mark, as these can provide greater assurance of electrical safety.

A Portable Appliance Test (PAT test) is a visual inspection of portable electrical appliances, as well as their plugs and leads. Testing of “class 1” equipment will also involve injecting testing signals to ensure integrity.

Since January 1, 2005, all electrical works should be carried out by an electrician with an ‘EAS’ certificate of competence or one who is registered with the local authority.

All properties must have an up to date Energy Performance Certificate and be made available to any prospective tenant. Energy efficiency takes into account factors such as insulation, heating and hot water systems, ventilation and fuels used. The average energy efficiency rating for a dwelling in England and Wales is band E (rating 46) The higher it is the cheaper the energy fuels and energy conservation.

Tenant deposits are to place within either a free custodial administered account or an insurance scheme where the landlord holds the deposit but pays a premium as ‘insurance’ to pay back the deposit. When a landlord takes a fully managed service, TDS duties usually comes with it.

Non statutory legal requirements

Landlords insurance that comes with both buildings and contents insurance for buy to let property is highly important even for non-furnished properties as it provides you with public liability insurance that your buildings insurance or standard household insurance may not cover. When you become a landlord it’s important to inform your insurers that your home is now going to let so as to safeguard you against possible fire, water and public liability.

In addition to the standard that Unipol set, we also stipulate a number of ‘Gold Standards’ to make your house a home. Whilst we ensure that all of our properties meet with strict safety and security regulations, we also want to ensure that your property is a ‘home from home’ for your tenants and offers best value for money. In taking this approach, we have found it to be the most successful way of ensuring the long term health of your investment as well as maintaing the Student Pavilion brand and company ethos.

(PLUS) The pavilion gold standard

Prior to the commencement of a tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean and airy condition. During tenancy its the responsibility of the tenant to maintain such standards in their accommodation alongside following communal area cleaning rotas till the end of their tenancy.

The property should be in a good state of repair and should conform to regulations regarding size and space for living accommodation, adequate window opening space for escape, adequate ventilation etc. All fittings secured and renewables replaced.

There should be at least one bathroom, one shower and lavatory/ensuite, one kitchen per five tenants, and these should be in a clean and serviceable condition. The kitchen must have adequate storage for food and crockery including a tall fridge and separate tall freezer (or combination) and wipeable working surfaces. Cooker/hob must have a working surface on either side of the hob. There should be a communal sitting room with adequate seating for all tenants.

A designated eating area provision which in some cases that will be a dining area with table and chairs, or for others a good sized breakfast bar with stools. Bedrooms must be big enough for a double or 3/4 bed with adequate storage of clothes and have ample space for movement the student to study (~10sqm+). If the room cannot fit a 3/4 bed in, we don’t think it’s big enough to be an adult bedroom!

Gas, electrical, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must all be safe, sound and in good operational order. Similarly, appliances such as washing machines, fridge freezers, cookers, dishwashers etc should be in a usable condition. If you are lucky to have a property with sinks in bedrooms, so much the better because students love that, of course.

Put in more electrical sockets than the minimum legal requirement particularly to reduces the number of trailing cables that student needs to power their increasing number of electrical items/gadgets they have these days. This also eliminates the risk or likelihood of trips or fall accidents. Provision of 37″ Flat screen TV (preferably wall mounted) and TV licence included as part of the rent always ticks the box for students.

There should be a notice board in a communal area containing the following information: gas and electrical certificates, procedure in the event of a fire, the landlords/agents address or contact details, an inventory of the contents in the property, communal cleaning rotas and other such notices regarding the management of the tenancies.

Also new tenants will always find a home operating guide very useful. This should contain ‘how to’ operate central heating and hot water system, cooker/hub, oven/extractor fan, washing machine, microwave, alarm system, any other special controls, local taxi numbers, local restaurant and takeaways and the day on which refuse is collected.

Any good interior decorative accessories, wall features, curtains, fine ornaments can be left for beautification and aesthetic purposes but should be in good condition. Walls and ceilings are to be preferably plain, light and neutral. Floors with good carpet, tiles or wood floors.

Install self-closing fire doors on the kitchen which are not too expensive and will not only save lives but may also limit damage to your property in the event of a fire and most fires start in the kitchen.

All locks on doors should be capable of being opened from the inside without the use of a key so that in an emergency escape in the dark is possible.

Have a set of key for all individual tenant room and main door access key ready and if we are managing the property we require a full set of keys too for emergency.

Securing your property from break in and theft of your tenant possessions or from even physical or sexual abuse is only a wise, small and one-time investment any landlord should make upfront to mitigate potential damages. losses or psychological trauma that can be caused to both you and your tenants

Deterrent such as proper doors and windows; double/triple glazed front and back doors and windows, multiple door lockings, window sash blockers, window vibration alarms with loud sirens, warning signs on windows, window net and curtains, frontal and rear pir floodlights, motion sensor cameras are all equipment Landlords can install to safeguard their tenants and catch potential thieves.

Bathrooms and Kitchens must contain extractor fans with humidistat controls so that they are activated as soon as humidity levels rise. Also ensure anobstructed air bricks around the property.

Both back and front gardens should be presented neat, tidy and rubbish free. During tenancy its the responsibility of the tenant to maintain such standards till the end of their tenancy. Where lawns are concerned you must provide necessary tools.

When you decide to let out your property its no longer is private residence but a shared and public accommodation and so it is important to protect yourself from ID theft and consider using the Post Office redirection service. Piles of letters addressed to non-residents or previous occupants in the wrong hands can expose you to potential financial loss. It is not the tenant responsibility to forward mail to you so we recommend that you register online or at depot for the Post Office redirection service which cost very little. At end of tenancy, leaving tenants are also required to change address of their mailings.

We don’t believe this list is onerous or asks too much of our landlords. Most people would consider these things as standard in their own home, so why not provide them for students. We really believe that these little extras can make a big difference to the appeal of your house, especially coupled with added incentives that we can offer your tenants through our More products.

In a crowded marketplace, standing out for the right reasons is not a bad thing!
As a landlord, we ask that you buy into our unique set of standards such that your property can be marketed as one of the best in the area – we’ll pass on plenty of hints and tips, we just need each landlord to commit to our winning formula to secure higher rents, fewer voids and better quality tenants.