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Detailed banding criteria for Reading Rent with Confidence scheme

1. Bronze Banding criteria

To achieve the bronze banding, the landlord/letting/management agent must meet the following standards:

1.1 Gas and Electrical Safety

Annual gas safety checks to be undertaken by a gas safe registered installer (Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 and certificates to be provided to tenants and Reading Borough Council on request.

Electrical checks and certificates to be provided to Reading Borough Council every 5 years and carried out by a member of the NICEIC, ELECSA, NAPIT, BSI or BRE competent persons scheme under Part P.

1.2 Energy Performance

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) minimum standard of 'E for all properties and certificate provided to tenant at the beginning of their tenancy (The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations 2007) and to Reading Borough Council on request.

1.3 Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

If you have a property that is a HMO and needs to be licensed, then it must have a HMO license. Currently, HMOs that require a license are those with three or more storeys and five or more tenants. If you are unsure whether or not you require a HMO license for your property, then please call 0118 9372151 or email HMO@reading.gov.uk for more information and advice.

1.4 Hazards and Repairs

Properties are to be free of Category 1 hazards as set out in the Housing Act 2004. We (Reading Borough Council) will use the HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) to assess if a property contains a Category 1 hazard. A numerical score which is greater than 1000 means it is a Category 1 hazard.

1.5 Fire Safety

All fire/heat/carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted and checked annually (as required). You will be required to self-verify that the fire safety checks referred in this paragraph 1.5 have been carried out.

1.6 Tenancy Agreements

Supply a written tenancy agreement to every new tenant at the beginning of their tenancy, detailing the terms and conditions of their tenancy.

1.7 Rent Increase

There is to be no rental increase within a fixed-term tenancy of 12 months or less.

1.8 Tenancy Deposit

Landlords or their agents must ensure that all new tenancy deposits are protected in one of the statutory tenancy deposit protection schemes within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Within the same 30 day time limit, the landlord or its agent must provide the tenant, or any other third party that has paid the deposit on the tenant's behalf, with the Prescribed Information about the deposit where it has been lodged together with a copy of the certificate/receipt of Deposit Protection. The Prescribed Information about the deposit must be re-served on the tenant or relevant third party where a new tenancy is created. Gov.uk information on tenancy deposit protection.

1.9 How to Rent Guide

At the outset of each tenancy, including renewals, the 'How to Rent' guide must be provided to all tenants. Gov.uk information on how to rent.

1.10 Right to Rent Checks

Prior to letting property landlords or their agents must check prospective tenant has the right to stay in the UK.

A landlord or its agent must comply with the "Right to Rent" checks.

1.11 Good Character of Landlord and Letting/Management Agents

In order to become a member of the RRWC scheme, landlords, letting and management agents must sign a declaration stating they are a fit and proper person, see application form.

To become a member of the RRWC scheme, the landlord or letting or management agent must have:

  • No conviction for illegal eviction or harassment of tenants in the last 7 years.
  • No conviction for violence towards any persons in the last 7 years.
  • No conviction for mortgage, Housing Benefit or Council Tax fraud or breach of grant conditions within the last 3 years.
  • No failings to comply with any statutory notice or Housing in Multiple Occupation requirements resulting in prosecution or works being carried out in default in the last 3 years.
  • No breaches of any laws relating to housing, public health or environmental health.
  • No conviction for non-compliance of a Planning Enforcement Notice relating to a residential property within the last 3 years.
  • No practices of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins or disability.
  • No other convictions which would indicate the unsuitability of the applicant under the scheme.

In addition to all of the above, the following criteria are specific to letting and management agents only.

Letting / Management Agent specific criteria:

1.12 Redress Schemes

It is a legal requirement for anyone engaged in letting agency and property management work to belong to one of the three redress schemes referred to below (logo to be presented in office and on website).

The three redress schemes are: The Ombudsman ServicesProperty Redress Scheme and The Property Ombudsman.

1.13 Consumer Rights Act 2015

Letting and management agents must ensure that their fees are transparent to tenants. All fees, charges and penalties must be prominently displayed in the office and on the company website.

A clear statement must be displayed (in the office and on the website) on whether the letting or management agent is or is not a member of a Client Money Protection Scheme.

2.   Silver Banding Criteria

To achieve the silver banding, the landlord or letting and management must meet the following criteria in addition to all the bronze banding criteria.

2.1 Rent / Deposit Payments

Will only charge tenants a deposit maximum which is equal to six weeks or one and a half months rent.

2.2 Property Checks

Complete inspections of property conditions and keep a written record of the checks carried out for all properties.  The recommended minimum is to check a property on 3rd month and the 9th month of the tenancy for a 12 month tenancy. (For longer or shorter tenancies, the frequency of inspections will alter depending on the length of the tenancy, for example, with a 6 month tenancy, inspect at 12 weeks).

The Council reserves the right to request copies of the inspection reports.

2.3 Repair Response Times

Adhere to target response times - emergency works to be responded to within 24 hours. Emergencies include (but are not limited to); no running water, no hot water, blocked drains, collapsed ceilings, fire, flooding, gas leak.

Respond to all other requests within 5 working days and aim to resolve emergencies within 3 days and non-emergencies within 28 days where possible.

2.4 Inventory Checklists

Provide an inventory check-list for both check-in and check-out to tenants.

In addition to all of the above, the following criteria are landlord specific.

2.5 Landlord specific criteria:

If you are a landlord using a letting/management agent, then use one who is registered on the RRWC scheme.

In addition to points 2.1 to 2.4, the following criteria is letting and management agent specific:

2.6 Letting / Management Agent Specific:

2.6.1 Client Money Protection Scheme

Must be a member of a Client Money Protection Scheme.

2.6.2 To Let Boards

Remove all 'To Let' boards outside of 'let' properties within 14 days from the date the tenancy agreement has been signed by the tenant(s), irrespective of whether the tenant has moved into the property or not.

3. Gold Banding Criteria

To achieve the gold banding, the landlord or letting or management agent must meet the following standards in addition to all the bronze and silver banding criteria.

3.1 Legal Action

No successful legal action has been taken by Reading Borough Council or any other enforcement authority against the landlord or letting or management agent in relation to the condition or standard of the property, or conduct towards the tenants in the last 5 years.

3.2 Long-Term Tenancy Agreements

Agree to provide long-term tenancy agreements to those tenants who request it; subject to the prospective tenants being suitable and where a property is available (for example, 2 year tenancy). Tenants who are suitable would be those who pass the affordability and reference tests carried out by landlords, letting and management agents.

3.3 Housing Benefit Tenants

Must not refuse tenancy agreements on the sole grounds of the prospective tenant being in receipt of Housing Benefit (affordability tests must be applied for each tenancy).

3.4 Training and Meetings

Must attend one training session (minimum 2 hours) and update meeting per year. Training will be relevant to renting to private rented sector lettings to ensure that landlords, letting and management agents are kept up-to-date with legal requirements and good practice, for example, changes to legal requirements, tax changes and right to rent checks.

Training sessions must be a minimum of two hours.

In addition to the criteria above, the following criteria is letting and management agent specific.

3.5 Letting / Management Agent Specific:

Must disclose if a member of staff has ownership, leasehold or freehold of a property that is being rented through the agency.

The criteria for each tier needs to be evidenced on request to Reading Borough Council either during the audit process or within 14 days.

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