New letting agent code of practice goes live in Scotland

A new statutory Code of Practice for letting agents, which aims to improve standards and empower tenants, has come into force.

Letting agents are required to join a register of letting agents, and key individuals in agencies must meet a minimum level of training. Should they fail to meet the standards expected they can be removed from the register, preventing them from operating as a letting agent.

Landlords and tenants can use the code to challenge poor practice and, if necessary, enforce it through the new First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

The code also sets out standards that must be met in how letting agents deliver services. It includes specific requirements on how clients’ money should be handled.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “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.”

The full code is available online.