A new statutory Code of Practice for letting agents has come into force, which will improve standards and empower tenants, says Kevin Stewart, minister for local government and housing.
The end of January marked another important milestone in the Scottish Government’s journey to improve private renting standards.
Together, these measures will give landlords and tenants confidence in the standard of service they should expect from a letting agent and give them a way to challenge poor practice where this arises.
The statutory code of practice is one element of the robust framework for the regulation of letting agents introduced by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. The code sets out the standards letting agents must meet in managing their business and providing services to tenants and landlords. Letting agents must make sure they meet the code’s obligations from 31 January. If they don’t, tenants and landlords can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing & Property) Chamber to resolve a breach of the code.
Any business carrying out letting agent activities in Scotland must also apply to join the mandatory Scottish Letting Agent Register by 1 October 2018. As part of the application, letting agents must demonstrate that key staff meet a ‘fit and proper person’ test and ensure that those directly involved in managing and supervising the day-to-day running of letting agency work have completed relevant training at SCQF level 6 or equivalent. If a letting agent has not submitted an application by 1 October it will be a criminal offence for them to carry out letting agent work in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has been working collaboratively with Registers of Scotland to develop an online application for the Scottish Letting Agent Register. More details on all aspects of letting agents registration are available on the Scottish Government website, and agents now have until the 1 October 2018 to make an application to join the register.
I am committed to improving standards across the private rented sector and I know that many in the letting agent industry welcome this. The introduction of this new regulatory regime for letting agents and the Letting Agent Code of Practice, developed in consultation with the industry, will benefit tenants and landlords as well as helping to professionalise the sector.