A new Letting Code of Practice began on 31 January 2018. All letting agents operating in Scotland are now required to comply with the Letting Agent Code of Practice and, in addition, join a register for letting agents whereby agencies must meet a minimum level of training.
What is the ‘Letting Agent Code of Practice’?
The statutory ‘Code of Practice’ defines the minimum standards expected from letting agents in Scotland, including how they operate their business and the service they provide.
Letting agents must meet the codes obligations from the 31st January 2018, which also specifies that letting agents must have a written complaints procedure in place readily available for customers on their request.
Should a breach of the ‘Code of Practice’ occur landlords and tenants should first make a formal complaint to the letting agent directly. However, should the letting agent not resolve the aforementioned complaint within a reasonable timeframe the landlord or tenant is able to apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing & Property Chamber).
You can find out more about applying to the First-tier Tribunal here, there is no application fee associated with this process.
To read the full letting agent code of practice click here.
The Scottish Government has also produced guides for landlords and tenants which help to explain the new letting agent regulation process.
Tenants can find relevant information here.
Landlords can find relevant information here.
What is the ‘Scottish Letting Agent Register’?
Anyone in Scotland carrying out letting agency work is now required to join the Scottish Letting Agent Register.
This is subject to a ‘fit and proper’ assessment where a wide range of information related to the business is considered. This includes whether they have been convicted of any offences (fraud, violence, drugs, firearms, sexual offences, housing law). Key members of staff within the business are also required to have a minimum standard of training.
Letting agents are now able to apply to join the register with the deadline to register being the 1 October 2018. Failure to comply can result in a fine of £50,000, a six-month prison sentence, or both.
You can find more information about letting agent registration, and sign up for updates, here.
Letting agents can now make an application by visiting the Government website here. The register also allows landlords and tenants to check whether specific letting agents are compliant and licenced to operate by using the public search function which can be found here.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart states:
“We are committed to ensuring the highest quality private rented sector, which empowers tenants. These reforms, and the need for the sector to meet key standards and expectations, are an important step in achieving our ambitions. Many letting agents already do a great deal to improve standards and inspire confidence amongst landlords and tenants. The introduction of the code means a level playing field for all and ensures clarity on rights, responsibilities and expectations.
The private rented sector provides a place to call home for hundreds of thousands of people – they deserve the necessary standards and protections to find and keep that home. The reforms we have introduced in private renting are the biggest changes for a generation and will deliver significant improvements, benefiting tenants and landlords.”