The two key legislative changes transforming the residential lettings sector in Scotland are firstly the replacement of Short Assured Tenancies by Private Residential Tenancies, offering tenants increased security of tenure and fewer grounds on which they may be subject to eviction.
Secondly, from January 31 the Scottish Government introduced its new code of practice and mandatory register for letting agents. As part of this, key individuals in a lettings agency must meet a new minimum level of training. If they have not undertaken the relevant training or qualifications by 30 September 2018, they will not be able to continue letting properties. Galbraith said it is ahead of the game by having staff who have already qualified at the highest level in all areas where it lets properties, namely Ayr, Castle Douglas, Cupar, Elgin, Galashiels, Inverness, Perth and Stirling, months before the new code comes into force.
Bob Cherry, a partner with Galbraith who manages lettings activity for the firm, said: “Essentially these two legislative changes combined will add up to increased professionalism in the letting sector, particularly in terms of how letting agents operate. All reputable letting agents will already to a large extent be in compliance with the new code. What will happen is that fewer letting agents will set up in business and potentially fewer new landlords may come into the sector for the first time.
“As long as landlords take professional advice, they will be well supported to navigate the complexities of the new regulatory regime. In the medium term, rents are likely to rise, which can only be good news for landlords.
“Our lettings staff are supported to achieve the highest industry qualification delivered by ARLA Propertymark, the UK’s foremost professional body for letting agents. This provides reassurance to tenants and landlords that Galbraith adheres to the highest professional standards.
“Our local knowledge and national reach ensures that landlords can expect a hassle-free let for their property and tenants are protected from unscrupulous landlords.
“We find that most rented properties will find a tenant very shortly after being made available to let, often within a couple of weeks. Further legislative changes over the next eighteen months, in terms of the change in the minimum energy performance certificate permissible in Scotland will help to raise standards for available property. We have already begun helping landlords to comply with these requirements and, in many cases, we are able to help landlords access funding for improvements to their property which bring it into line with the EPC regulations, often at no cost to them.
“Property is still viewed as one of the most popular and safest forms of investment and, with the right advice, can offer landlords a very appealing and long-term investment option, given the continued shortage of good quality housing supply.”
Galbraith lets over one thousand homes across Scotland, in rural and urban areas. Its lettings practice has expanded in recent years and demand for rental properties is strong in most parts of the country, particularly for rural properties.