Accreditation may not be necessary or appropriate everywhere. There are two essential pre-conditions:
a) There must be a genuine commitment to cooperative working on both sides. Voluntary accreditation only works when a significant number of landlords support it. Where landlords are sceptical or undecided, work will be needed to promote the benefits and negotiate over the appropriate incentives. Unlike compulsory registration, landlords must be persuaded to join an accreditation scheme. The scheme must be targeted at the right landlords and properties. Voluntary accreditation will not work across the whole private rented sector. The small minority of landlords who deliberately seek to avoid meeting their statutory obligations or providing a decent standard of management will require a different approach. Voluntary accreditation is most likely to work with well-intentioned landlords who see the benefits of receiving advice and practical help from the local authority, and who value the status or the increased likelihood of attracting tenants, associated with being officially accredited.
b) The characteristics of the private rented market in a locality must also be taken into account. Where there is a high demand for private rented accommodation, landlords may see no reason to join unless there are very strong incentives, which will increase the demand on resources to run a scheme. By contrast, in areas where supply and demand are more closely balanced, membership of an accreditation scheme may give a real advantage in attracting tenants and landlord recruitment may be easier. In areas of very low demand that have attracted less well-intentioned landlords, compulsory measures may be more appropriate than voluntary accreditation.
But even in areas where it might seem difficult to attract landlords, hard work, the involvement of good people, and the right package of incentives have made schemes successful, while in other areas where conditions were more favourable, schemes have faltered because they were not developed or run in the best way. Hence the decision on whether it is appropriate or possible to develop a voluntary accreditation scheme is one that must be taken locally. Crucially, a decision must be made in partnership with landlords themselves.
But once a decision has been taken to go ahead, it is essential to do everything possible to ensure that the scheme is effective and successful in recruiting members, retaining their involvement, and in ensuring that good quality and well managed accommodation is provided for tenants. As well as wasting time and resources for everyone involved, a weak scheme may do more harm than good to relations with private landlords and tenants.