Landlords and Scottish Government redouble efforts for better enforcement of regulations

John Blackwood
John Blackwood

Scottish landlords will today announce their support for new action by the Scottish Government to encourage better enforcement of laws and regulations to force rogue and illegal players out of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and provide a better service for tenants.

As 350 delegates from across Scotland gather for a major industry event in Edinburgh, National Landlord Day, the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) has announced its support for the decision by the Scottish Government to issue new guidelines to local authorities regarding the enforcement of landlord registration.

Although it is a requirement for all landlords in the PRS to apply and be accepted on to a public register maintained by each local authority, SAL and the Scottish Government are increasingly concerned that many landlords are not doing so. The new guidance will encourage a stronger focus on tougher, targeted enforcement.

The support for the new guidance reinforces the need for increased enforcement after a poll conducted by SAL in September found that 69 per cent of Scottish people believe councils should do more to enforce existing laws governing the PRS, such as ensuring the landlord register is maintained in line with legislation, electrical and gas safety checks are completed, and deposits are properly registered with a Scottish Government approved tenancy deposit scheme.

The PRS has been subject to a succession of new laws over the past decade to improve the standard of rented properties, most of them with the full support of landlords, but SAL believes that the stream of new rules has not been matched with an effective programme of enforcement, rendering many of them ineffective.

This means that responsible landlords, which are the overwhelming majority of the sector, who fully comply with all laws and regulations and maintain properties to a high standard, could be driven out of the market by rogue or criminal players who are able to undercut on price by not fulfilling the same responsibilities.

John Blackwood, chief executive of SAL, said: “We fully support stronger guidance for local authorities on landlord registration and, indeed, any other measures which will increase enforcement and make existing laws and regulations more effective.

“We know council budgets are under pressure but we believe that simply by better communication and link-up between different departments within local authorities, along with increased awareness, enforcement would be more effective.

“SAL wants to improve education of landlords and tenants about exactly what their rights and responsibilities are and work with the authorities to ensure criminal landlords cannot rent out properties. If we can achieve that, we will see a more effective PRS in Scotland which protects tenants and continues to provide the high-quality rented housing which is needed across Scotland.”

Scottish minister for local government & housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, said: “We know that most landlords look to let their properties in a responsible way, but there is no doubt that some landlords continue to flout the law and cause misery for their tenants and the wider community. I would like to see all local authorities making effective use of their landlord registration powers to take tougher enforcement action against those landlords.

“It is not acceptable that landlords who blatantly ignore their legal responsibilities are allowed to continue to operate unhindered. There is evidence of some good enforcement activity by local authorities but the challenge for all of us is how we deliver consistency.

“The Scottish Government is consulting on statutory guidance for local authorities on landlord registration and developing a new landlord registration IT system to replace the existing outdated one. These improvements will help local authorities to focus more on delivering effective advice and support to landlords and tenants, securing compliance by landlords and targeting enforcement at those that deliberately flout the law.”

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