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The foundation of better standards in PRS

TDS is the longest-running provider of insurance and custodial deposit schemes in England and Wales but it also does much to improve standards in the PRS through its Charitable Foundation.

The Negotiator

PRS imageSet up in 2014, the TDS Charitable Foundation exists, in the words of its Chairman Martin Partington CBE QC, to: “help to raise standards in the private rented sector and to increase awareness by tenants and landlords of their respective rights and responsibilities.”

As a statutory Tenancy Deposit Scheme, TDS recognised that more needed to be done to educate both landlords and tenants about their roles and duties.

Martin Partington CBE QC imageMartin, who is also Chair of TDS, explains, “We had seen examples of landlords who clearly did not understand what they need to do in relation to the protection of tenancy deposits. Alongside this, we also saw numerous disputes where tenants blatantly disregarded the terms of the tenancy agreement and caused damage and loss to the landlord’s property.”

We now want to see if we can have a bigger impact on the national stage and are inviting larger bid proposals with a grant of £50,000 available. Martin Partington CBE QC, Chairman.

As a result the Tenancy Deposit Scheme established the TDS Charitable Foundation to raise standards in the private rented sector and specifically to educate tenants and landlords in their respective obligations. Eight Trustees from across the private rented sector sit on the board.

HOW IT WORKS

The charity is funded principally by donations from TDS and, to date, has awarded grants of £336,000 to a total of 31 projects in England and Wales.

When it began, bids tended to be from small organisations doing work locally. For instance, the Foundation awarded a grant of £6,460 to Advice for Renters. This group identified a need to better inform tenants in the London Borough of Brent about the Council’s selective licencing scheme and a key output was the design and publication of an Advice Guide.

As the Foundation matured, it recognised the importance of working at a national level too. The train2rent project, for example, is a suite of training materials which local groups can use to run their own training courses. The Foundation commissioned the Residential Landlords Association to produce the slides and course materials which are free for anyone to download from the train2rent website.

WHO BENEFITS

One of the biggest grants to date (£35,300) has been paid to Law for Life, a charity that works to ensure that everyone has the knowledge, confidence and practical skills they need to secure access to justice. It does this through community-based education and training, research and policy, and through the Advicenow website at www.advicenow.org.uk which provides easy-to-use information on rights and the law for the public.

Another large recipient of grant funding has been the National Union of Students. Their project, which benefited from a TDS Charitable Foundation grant of £37,250 was designed to produce a range of information resources for students entering the private rented sector for the first time as well as training student welfare and accommodation officers to work with students across the country. These resources can be found at www.readytorent.nus.org.uk.

One of the most successful projects funded by the Foundation has been the £20,000 grant to Norwich City College to develop a new part-time and full-time course in lettings management. The aim was to provide students with a traditional BTEC business qualification with a professional qualification in Residential Lettings offered by the National Federation of Property Professionals Awarding Body. 28 students were enrolled on the two year course and the programme is being replicated at the City College of Brighton and Hove in 2017.

The smallest grant to date has been to the Enfield Citizens’ Advice Bureau which received a grant of £1,500 to create the Enfield Housing Alliance Forum; a way of bringing together landlords, statutory and voluntary agencies operating in Enfield. The grant also helped fund a conference in February 2017 for local landlords, in partnership with the local council.

INNOVATIVE PROJECTS

The Foundation has now developed three funding streams: larger projects with a nationwide impact can receive up to £50,000 per project; a fund of £25,000 exists for particularly innovative projects; while community projects can bid for grants of up to £10,000.

Martin believes that the Foundation is really making a difference: “In our first three years we have done some fantastic work at a local and national level. We now want to see whether we can have a bigger impact on the national stage which is why we are inviting some larger bid proposals with a grant of up £50,000 available to sit alongside our small grant programme for local groups. I am particularly interested in the innovation fund where Trustees are seeking innovative projects in which to invest grants.”

For more information please visit www.tdsfoundation.org.uk

July 10, 2017

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