2015 was a landmark year for SAPA as we marked our formation, held our launch event and welcomed our first members. This means we’ve got momentum going forward into 2016 and we’re keen for this year to be even more successful, beginning with our first conference of the year on Thursday 28th January.
In preparation for this conference we have written to the directors of the Environmental Health Department of all the London boroughs to establish a comprehensive list of mandatory requirements for shared accommodation providers. We know from speaking to our members that the standards, rules and requirements for shared accommodation properties differ extensively from borough to borough, and the information can often be difficult to access, lost in lengthy documents held over different departments of one local authority. This can make things excessively difficult for anyone attempting to manage properties in more than one borough. We hope that this process will create a database ranging from licensing requirements, health and safety standards, council tax liability and all other mandatory requirements for shared accommodation, and that this database will make your lives easier and save you valuable time.
We have also held discussions with the Minister of State for Housing, the Rt Hon Brandon Lewis’s department, and have received encouragement to pursue our objectives on these matters. Our mission is seen as particularly important given the social benefits of shared accommodation in London and other major cities in the UK, especially with the rental market being big news towards the end of 2015 and promising to continue to be an issue well into 2016 and beyond.
We hope this initial list will help us in providing our members with clear and concise information on the varied requirements of shared accommodation, and that it will be something we can keep adding to and making more comprehensive. We believe it would save accommodation providers a lot of time and money, but also reduce the resources local councils use in prosecuting shared accommodation providers for breaches that may have been avoided with clear information and guidance. Making things easier for councils will help improve the overall image of shared accommodation and get them more on board with what we all know is a rapidly growing and changing industry.
This has been the focus of our end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 and we see it as the first step in truly improving the image and provision of shared accommodation in London and beyond. We’ve made a good start and there’s a long way to go, but we have the momentum and innovation to take us there. We hope to see you all on the 28th January, where we will inform you of our progress on this comprehensive list and of the other plans we have in store for 2016, whilst we also look forward to hearing what thoughts and ideas all our members will bring to the table.