Hertfordshire students' union carried out research on the condition of student housing in Hatfield. Through effective distributions strategies for the survey, they managed to get 5% of the entire student population, making the results statistically significant.
The results spoke for themselves. It identified how poor the condition of many houses was, including infestations of rats and cockroaches or no heating and hot water for months on end. It also identified poor management of many landlords; there was often a complete lack of customer service and student often waiting for months on end for even the most simple of issues to be fixed.
In partnership with the university, the students' union took the report to the local council. This provided a springboard for developing a formal partnership; one outcome of this being a landlord accreditation scheme that will be up and running by January 2012.
The scheme will provide a formal mechanism to hold landlords to account, and put them through a tribunal if landlords do not adhere to the scheme. However it also benefits landlords; it offers them access to support staff running the scheme, training and the opportunity to develop and professionalise. They will also be able to access support for the accreditation scheme should they have difficulty with their tenants. Landlords and estate/letting agents will both be able to get accredited on the same scheme, with the ability for good landlords to achieve higher levels of accreditation.